May 2011, arsenal cinema

Classics not only for children

DER ROTE BALLON, 1956

A bag falls from the sky, inside: MILLIONS (Danny Boyle, GB 2004, March 7 & 8). What appears as a sudden fairy tale in the orderly settlement of new residential buildings in Liverpool, where Damian, his brother Anthony and their father live after the death of the mother, turns out to be the continuation of fantasy with capitalistic means. For Damian's world is already populated by fantastic heroes – saints. That's why Anthony calls him a weirdo and endorses soberly investing the millions. Damian, on the other hand, wants to act like his holy role models and distribute the money among the poor: a field study is to reveal who is needy in the neighborhood. Boyle creates poetic and whimsical images that tell of the belief in fantasy, not without satirical interludes.

Boyle's brightly colored suburbia is contrasted by the dismal gray of Montmartre in DER ROTE BALLON (Ballon Rouge, Albert Lamorisse, F 1956, March 14 & 15) – a uniform world of small adults. But then Pascal finds the red balloon that turns out to be an anthropomorphous playfellow. Finally, it falls victim to a slingshot and sinks to the ground – breathless. But then all the balloons in Paris break adrift and surround Pascal, filling the picture with color.

In Rob Reiner's STAND BY ME (USA 1986, March 21 & 22), the event entering the childhood of the protagonists is at first a rumor: the corpse of a missing boy is said to be lying in the forest near the hometown of Gordie, Teddy, Chris, and Vern. The dead body bears a paradoxical promise for them: Finding it first would turn the outsiders into heroes. After the encounter with the reality of death, however, they go home in silence. Reiner's staging is not intent on moments of shock: embedded in a flashback, he tells of the end of childhood and the commencing woefulness associated with it.