Black Balloon

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Elissa Down’s 2008 film The Black Balloon deeply explores the complex themes and issues that surround the dynamics of a family whose teenage son is the subject to autism. Such issues revolve around society’s attitude to people who suffer from a disability and the struggles families go through when a family member has a disorder. The film depicts a military family, the Mollisons who have two sons, Charlie has autism and attention deficit disorder, and his younger brother, Thomas a 15 year old who juggles his teenage life by taking the role as Charlies’ ‘carer’ by having to go through the humiliating and embarrassing situations his brother puts him through. The film clearly portrays society’s harsh attitude towards individuals that are different such that of Charlie, and their unforgiving and oblivious nature to the fact that he suffers from a condition in which it is not his fault, so has no choice but to cope with it. This is particularly demonstrated through dialogue, when neighbours ask Thomas “Why's your brother a spastic?” and also when the boys at Thomas' school call the students on the special needs bus “freaks”, “retards” and “spastics”. The use of stark coarse language is that it gives an abrupt and nasty effect, allowing the responder to immediately react to what has been said. This shows a lack of compassion and society's negative attitude because they refuse to use words that are politically correct and respectful as they don't see people with intellectual disabilities as equal. Throughout the film, close-up shots of different character’s faces are shown as they pose a sympathetic or angry expression when they encounter the Mollison’s family. This is shown when Charlie has a tantrum at the supermarket, and the people’s face expressions are those of interest and amusement. The effect of these film shots is that it allows the responder to develop their own judgment for each character and allows them to get more involved or personal as they understand...
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