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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video interview with film scholar Donald Richie
  • "Un metteur en ordre: Robert Bresson," a 1966 French television show about the film, featuring Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, and members of Balthazar's cast and crew
  • Original theatrical trailer

Au hasard Balthazar


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Robert Bresson
Starring: Anne Wiazemsky, Walter Green, François Lafarge
1966 | 95 Minutes | Licensor: Rialto Pictures

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #297
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: June 14, 2005
Review Date: June 3, 2018

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SYNOPSIS

A profound masterpiece from one of the most revered filmmakers in the history of cinema, director Robert Bresson's Au hasard Balthazar follows the donkey Balthazar as he is passed from owner to owner, some kind and some cruel but all with motivations beyond his understanding. Balthazar, whose life parallels that of his first keeper, Marie, is truly a beast of burden, suffering the sins of man. But despite his powerlessness, he accepts his fate nobly. Through Bresson's unconventional approach to composition, sound, and narrative, this seemingly simple story becomes a moving parable of purity and transcendence.

Forum members rate this film 8.2/10

 

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

Criterionís original DVD edition of Robert Bressonís Au hazard Balthazar on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The master comes from a high-definition restoration scanned from the 35mm original camera negative. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

This is another standard definition presentation that holds up reasonably well, even 13 years later, though still has a few minor problems. Revisiting it recently I was surprised mostly by how clean it is from a restoration perspective. There are still some bits of dirt and a few scratches but theyíre rather minimal in the end and not altogether that noticeable.

The image is as sharp as it can be but compression can be a bit problematic, mostly noticeable in the fur of the donkey, creating some noticeable blocky patterns. But outside of that details arenít too bad despite the limitations of the format (even though finer details rarely pop) and the image never looks fuzzy or blurry. Gray scale is nice with decent blacks and gray levels, and the tonal shifts end up being fairly smooth.

Itís a nice image, clearly bested by the newer Blu-ray edition, but for those just looking for the film on DVD this still looks quite reasonable and clean.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track isnít all that showy but it is adequate and does suit the film. Itís quiet but dialogue can be heard well enough and outside of some background noise and some edginess in the music it has been cleaned up well enough.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

A lower-tier edition it ends up still containing a couple of decent features. First is a 13-minute interview with scholar Donald Richie, who talks about Bressonís style, and the many reactions (including his own) to this film. Despite Richie seeming very sincere about how the film impacted him itís not terribly insightful, other than maybe when he touches a bit on the various interpretations and even negative criticisms of the film.

Much better, though, is a 62-minute French television episode of Pour le Plaisir, which aired in May of 1966. Put together by Robert Stťphane, it features interviews with the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and Louis Malle, commenting on what they consider an absolutely remarkable film, while also featuring interviews with Bresson, cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet, and actors Anne Wiazemsky, FranÁois Lafarge and Pierre Klossowski. Though the insights from the third parties prove most valuable the details provided by the cast and crew are astonishingly detailed, Bresson even sharing his thoughts on what the film is about and what it means. Itís admittedly a bit drawn out in places but still a really pleasing inclusion.

The disc then features what is said to be the original theatrical trailer, which it probably is, though it opens with the Rialto logo. The included insert then offers a short but thorough analysis of the film by James Quandt.

Ultimately itís not stacked but the two features, particularly the lengthy television program, should help newcomers to the film.

5/10

CLOSING

The Blu-ray offers an improvement in the A/V department over this older DVD edition but even all these years later itís a solid edition.


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Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca