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This poignant film is a powerful portrait of humanity seen through the life of a donkey. The animal is first the loving plaything of small children in rural France, then a working beast of burden named by a sullen child. As the girl grows up, the donkey's fortunes worsen with the young
woman's when she is gang-raped and dies. Her sadistic lover, a leader of a motorcycle gang, tortures the donkey by setting its tail on fire. The donkey's life intersects with the lives of many of its other owners, as well. A brutal farmer owns the animal and beats it, but is finished off in grim
irony. Then the donkey has a respite in becoming a momentary circus star, but then again returns to tilling the soil. It ends its days with a simple-minded but loving old man who considers the animal a saint. This great film, made with uncompromising honesty and devastating reality, is, according
to Jean-Luc Godard, "the world in an hour and a half." Music includes Franz Schubert's "Piano Sonata No. 20."