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Bresson's magnificent 'Balthazar' kicks off animal-centric film series

Bresson's magnificent 'Balthazar' kicks off animal-centric film series
Anne Wiazemsky in the 1966 film "Au Hasard Balthazar," directed by Robert Bresson. (Rialto Pictures / Photofest / UCLA Film & Television Archive)

Robert Bresson's "Au Hasard Balthazar" (1966) is one of the undisputed masterpieces of world cinema, as well as one of its abiding mysteries. Not even the keenest understanding of Bresson's formally rigorous methods can quite account for the poetic alchemy he achieved here: Compacting the short, brutal life of a donkey into 95 minutes, the movie somehow achieves a heartbreaking, deeply human vision of the sublime.

A 35-millimeter print of "Balthazar" kicks off a three-day program, "Europe in Four Themes: Animals," presented by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies in collaboration with the Getty Center. Also set to screen are the Hungarian canine-uprising thriller "White God" (2014) and the Soviet satire "Heart of a Dog" (1988).

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'Europe in Four Themes: Animals'

"Au Hasard Balthazar," Friday, 7:30 p.m.

"White God," Saturday, 3 p.m.

"Heart of a Dog," Sunday, 3 p.m.

Where: Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum, Westwood

Price: $10

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