Au Hasard Balthazar (1966, Robert Bresson)

(Village Voice # 9)

Connie’s Prediction:

Oh, folks. I am really nervous about this one. The title . . . the high Village Voice ranking . . .

It’s going to be a black and white film featuring a bunch of dudes. One in particular —one that earns the nickname Au Hasard Balthazar — will endure much hardship and violence to lead a group of men to overthrow an awful landlord, Benoit Carsoroni, only to die in the film’s closing frame.

The Film

The Response

“I do not like the way animals and women are portrayed in this movie… I’ve complained in the past that movies don’t give the viewers any credit; this movie is the opposite of that….”

(Connie has fallen asleep with 30 minutes remaining. But, surprisingly, she has requested that we pause the film so that we can finish it another time. Stay tuned….

…During this extended intermission, I received the following tweet…

The book does indeed look relevant and fascinating. Perhaps we could get it as a book on tape. It might make the drive across Wyoming in a couple of weeks more exciting (insert “furthest apart” joke here), except that upon further review (literally the third clause in the sentence), the book isn’t actually available at all until next year. I do love that the image associated with the book features our dear Balthazar…)

After the intermission: “This is an incredibly disturbing film. But I have to say that I liked this one.”

A quick note from the 1970 NY Times review (This echoes Connie’s sentiments):

“Au Hasard, Balthazar” proceeds by contraries — beginning with the sound track, which opens with a Schubert piano sonata rudely interrupted by a donkey’s braying that lead to insights traditionally understandable only in terms of paradox. This is neither an easy film, nor, in the show biz sense, an entertaining one. It makes large demands upon its audience, and in return confers exceptional rewards. It is playing at the New Yorker Theater, and among recent openings it is the only absolutely essential moviegoing in New York.

Connie has asked that I give her 16 points for being correct in her prediction.

Next up: “Blue Velvet” (David Lynch 1986). Rolling Stone Maverick Film #9