opening 5 minutes:
I have the Criterion edition, and there's an article at their site which says,
In Balthazar, little is numinous. We are placed in a hard, corporeal world of rucked, muddy fields and of things and objects, some of them signifiers of a modernity Bresson finds wantingDVD Talk says, "Its appeal is as basic as a silent melodrama, or a bittersweet Chaplin film, minus the overt sentimentality." Roger Ebert considers it a "great" movie and opens with this:
Robert Bresson is one of the saints of the cinema, and "Au Hasard Balthazar" (1966) is his most heartbreaking prayer.Senses of Cinema says,
Balthazar is a parable of sin and suffering, but barely a religious one. The Biblical echoes in it in fact seem referential (not reverential).... This Bresson creation, the donkey Balthazar, is one of the most intriguing and powerful in all cinema.Slant Magazine says it "might be the most rewarding film in the upper reaches of virtually every last "greatest film ever" poll". Time Out says that "the film is perhaps the director's most perfectly realised, and certainly his most moving."