What happens when a donkey is a signifier for your stupid decisions?
Au Hasard Balthazar is a classic of French New Wave cinema that uses a donkey’s life to chronicle the lives of two kids whom fall in love and then grow apart as they get older. Balthazar is a donkey adopted by a little girl named Marie who spends her summers with a family friend, a little boy named Jacque. Marie and Jacque lovingly adore Balthazar being the catalyst of their loving relationship. As kids Jacque promises to always be there for her every summer, but as time goes on that promise means less and less, and in parallel so does the life of Balthazar.
This classic film explores what influences someone’s life, what can turn them to a grim path through the vassal of abuse towards animals, the loss of innocence through neglecting something seen childish, class struggle, gender inequality, greed and the perils of youthful rebellion. Smartly directed, shot in black and white, giving light to the emotions at hand, grounding them in a cold straight reality for the most effective scenes. Au Hasard Balthazar brilliantly uses modern music at the time to convey the presence of a sinister character, having cut scenes convey the most unfortunate and lecherous of moments.
If Au Hasard Balthazar is your foray into French New Wave of the sixties, be prepared for one of the most hopelessly intriguing of them all.
- Maurice Jones