core webworks

The Donkey (Balthazar) makes no attempt to communicate its emotions to us, and it comunicates its physical feelings only in universal terms: Covered with snow, it is cold. Its tail set afire, it is frightened. Eating its dinner, it is content. Overworked, it is exhausted. Returning home, it is relieved to find a familiar place. Although some humans are kind to it and others are cruel, the motives of humans are beyond its understanding, and it accepts what they do because it must.

Now here is the essential part. Bresson suggests that we are all Balthazars. Despite our dreams, hopes and best plans, the world will eventually do with us whatever it does. Because we can think and reason, we believe we can figure a way out, find a solution, get the answer. But intelligence gives us the ability to comprehend our fate without the power to control it. Still, Bresson does not leave us empty-handed. He offers us the suggestion of empathy. If we will extend ourselves to sympathize with how others feel, we can find the consolation of sharing human experience, instead of the loneliness of enduring it alone.

(Au Hasard Balthazar, by Roger Ebert)


The film follows the life of the donkey from birth to death, while all the time living it the dignity of being itself--a dumb beast, noble in its acceptance of a life over which it has no control. Balthazar is not one of those cartoon animals that can talk and sing and is a human with four legs. Balthazar is a donkey, and it is as simple as that.


Marie loves Balthazar, and delights in decorating his bridle with wild-flowers, but she does nothing to protect him when local boys torment the beast. The leader of this gang is Gerard. When Marie glances up to the church choir during Mass as Gerard sings, he brings an evil even to the holy words.

Marie's father is a victim of the sin of pride. Although he has managed the farm with perfect honesty, he refuses to produce records or receipts to prove himself, after rumors are spread by jealous neighbors that he is stealing from the owner.

"Great minds discuss ideas;

average minds discuss events;

small minds discuss people."

(Eleanor Roosevelt)