The Black Balloon
The film “The Black Balloon” directed by Elissa Downs is a bold film about the realistic look at autism within a suburban family over a more traditional coming of age story. It looks at the complexities of family life without over-romanticizing Charlie’s autism and the affects it has on each member of the family as well as others outside of the family. The main theme of the film is that of Thomas’s coming of age and accepting that his brother will never be normal. Another theme that it is exploring is the treatment of people with disabilities. This is all supported by the characters and the use of script, symbolism, cinematography, lighting and music/sound. The major theme in this film is Thomas played by Rhys Wakefield, becoming of age and accepting that his brother Charlie, played by Luke Ford will never be normal. The title of the movie “The Black Balloon” refers to Charlie being the odd one in his family and in society which in turn makes Thomas feel also like the black balloon, the director has used the opening scene to identify that the film is about Thomas. The scene has the camera tilted up slightly as Thomas walks into the shot with a box of things with his name on it. As Thomas looks around the camera cuts to where he is looking, which are his new neighbours and you see them steer at Charlie his artistic brother. The close ups of Thomas illustrate an uneasy look but also one that has been confronted with the situation before. Also to show that Thomas and his family are use to this hostile greeting into a new neighbourhood is when one of the three boys in the title sequence asks Thomas “why is your brother a spastic?” Thomas response in a way that says it hasn’t been the first time “He’s not a spastic. He’s autistic” as well as the response the boys get from the mother when she turns at their bad language and say “Hello boys...where do you live?” then grabs the cricket bat and walks off showing then that she will not tolerate...
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