Notes on Short Film

Lengthy diatribe on brief cinematic experience.

Posts Tagged ‘bill mason

The Red Balloon (1956)

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Just as Bill Mason personified a block of wood in Paddle to the Sea (1966), so did Albert Lamorisse in Le Ballon rouge. The audience experiences the childhood fantasy of a boy befriending a red balloon, an obvious visual contrast to the grey, collapsing, post-war streets of Monmartre. Blogger Douglas Messerli has this to say of the film’s idealistic meaning:

[T]he young hero and his beloved balloon are not simply involved in a relationship of admirer and admired but soon come to represent an alternative to the high-spirited street boys, who repeatedly attempt to shoot down and destroy the dancing globe on a string. Lamorisse’s red balloon is thus quickly transformed from a bouncing toy into a magical image of freedom and potentiality, and his simple tale rises to the level of fable and myth. Traveling the city with his new-found friend, the balloon’s adventures seem as limitless as the boy’s love and trust.

I definitely think this film evokes innocence and freedom where the post-war landscape evokes a jaded need for destruction, played out in the other children on the street. I can also see the metaphor for Christ at the end, when the red balloon dies and its “spirit” is reborn in thousands of other balloons, there to rescue the boy and preserve his innocence. Whether its message is anti-war or pro-religion, The Red Balloon features such beautiful cinematography and such a perfect example of color theory in film, that the visual effects alone could be the message. This film is one of my favorites so far this semester.

Written by Alisa Hathaway

February 28, 2011 at 11:07 am

Paddle to the Sea (1966)

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This Academy-Award winning film directed by Bill Mason, is the ultimate journey story that focuses on the importance of the journey itself rather than its effect on the character taking the journey. The journeyer is an inanimate object, and the audience learns nothing about Paddle simply because there is nothing to learn. We learn very little about the boy who created him, other than he dreams of taking a journey such as this. Paddle’s journey seems dangerous, but rather than feel fear for him, as viewers we are merely curious to see where nature will take him next.

The only real character in this film is Paddle’s surroundings. Mason is obviously pointing out the glorious mountains, the awe-inspiring glaciers, and the untouched forests as he follows Paddle. RB Movie Reviews gives us a bit of insight on the filming; Mason and his camera operator followed Paddle (and his many stunt doubles) through this course mapped out by the original picture book for two years, through every season twice, filming mostly at water level. The audience gains an appreciation for nature that the filmmakers wants to convey. We see the corrosive and destructive affects of man along the way, as well. Many reviews like this one on FilmCritic.com hails this film as a children’s movie, and while it has some elements of childhood fantasy journeys and its definitely appropriate for kids, I would describe it more as an environmental plea. Mason wants us to see the natural world as plot and character all in one. Just as those that find Paddle are asked to “put me back in the water,” Mason asks us to leave our Earth to its natural course, as well.

Enjoy the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony tonight!

Written by Alisa Hathaway

February 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

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