Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Fairy Tales from the Fifties

To celebrate finally getting a television (even if the arial is not co-operating), a small package from dear old Amazon turned up this morning with Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon and White Mane. Though I had bought it for the more well known The Red Balloon, I actually loved the story of the wild horses and little fisher-boy set in Camargue, France. 

In both, Lamorisse captures two young innocents seeking escape from a world of corruption and brutality via their chosen mediums - a beautiful independent horse and a magical red balloon. Both keep the boys company in their harsh settings, each ending in mysterious manners that allow the two to return to the supposedly more fair and understanding worlds of their companions - one swims out to sea and to "a wonderful place where men and horses are friends, always", and the other is transported high high up above Paris by a whole cohort of multi-coloured balloons. Lamorisse was formerly a documentary-maker which is evident in his style, and this ability to portray with 'realism' is in harmony with the fairy tale nature of the stories.

Alain Emery, who plays the young boy Falco, had to learn how to ride and for most of the film he seems to be galloping bareback! For the scene in which he is dragged by White Mane through marshes and onto the beach, Lamorisse himself did the stunt double.

White Mane 1952

The Red Balloon 1956

Truly recommend both films - very inspiring and beautiful. Visually, White Mane is stunning as the arid, bright seaside marshes are brought to life in black & white, while The Red Balloon is a colour-saturated feast for the eyes.

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