No 348 - Au Hasard Balthazar
Director - Robert Bresson
Donkeys are hardly the most iconic of animals. Besides their religious undertones, all I can think of is that Pinocchio almost turns into one. It is not an animal which really inspires much excitement. Unfortunately this film doesn't change my view.
We follow the life of a donkey, called Balthazar and how he affects the lives of people around them. Namely the following 4 characters:
Gerard (Francois Lafarge) - A big motorbiking bully of a man.
Marie (Anne Wiazemsky) - Who loves Gerard
Pierre (Walter Green) - Who loves Marie
Arnold (Jean-Claude Guilbert) - The town drunk
The film itself seems to look at two things. Cruelty and love. There are a lot of one way relationships in this film and a lot of scenes of abuse. Mainly, it seems, on Balthazar. Arnold seems to personally take offense to the donkey and see him as a factor for his downfall whereas Gerard is just a bastard.
As I watched the film I couldn't help put take personal offense to Gerard. He is cruel for the hell of it. But not even in a fun way. Just in a really petty way. He isn't an iconic villain he is just an annoying child. And he seems to have a personal vendetta against the donkey. I'm not entirely sure why Gerard and Arnold are so angry with Balthazar, he is a DONKEY, it is not like he personally wronged them, and yet they take any opportunity to beat him. Or, set fire to the donkeys tail.
For some reason Marie finds Gerard fascinating, maybe because he rides a (rubbish) motorbike or something. She longs after Gerard and is a co-victim of his abuse. So, over the course of the film she gets beaten up several times but always runs back to him.
I'd feel more sorry for her but she is really weird. Whilst nothing is ever actually said there are some very strong allusions that maybe, JUST MAYBE, there is a slightly too close relationship between Anne and Balthazar. I mean in one scene she looks longingly at the donkey and then gives him a kiss on the lips. THIS IS NOT NATURAL! I'm not calling Marie an all out zoophile but she is clearly mentally ill. Explains a lot of her behaviour. she does not behave normally.
The only character bordering on normality is Pierre, and that's only because he isn't in the film for much. He just turns up and has unrequited love for Marie. Every now and again he almost gets together with Marie and then she goes back to Gerard.
That's about it really.The film is quite boring, and none of the characters seem to have any motivation to do ANYTHING. They just wander around and are mean to each other and to donkeys.