MFAH showcases Lamorrise’s films

Filmmaker Albert Lamorrise celebrates childhood simplicity in his films The Red Balloon and White Mane first made popular in the 1950s. As part of its summer film festival, Discovery Green Park, located in the heart of downtown, featured the films on a giant inflatable screen at their outdoor venue last Wednesday.

The award-winning film The Red Balloon tells the story of a boy who befriends a balloon whose vibrancy and good nature are welcome changes against a gray, dismal cityscape.

The unsuspecting pair seeks out adventure, but more often finds danger lurking in a back alley or in a nearby schoolyard. The duo proves its loyalty to each other, as the balloon shadows the boy’s every move, and the boy does everything in his power to save his friend from impending doom.

The balloon’s ability to move freely is one of many nuances that makes this film special. An unlikely friend, the balloon is uplifting and fun where life is mundane and routine.

Its whimsy and imaginative expression makes The Red Balloon a must see.

White Mane, which immediately followed, tells the story of an ornery horse that finds solace in a young fisherman after escaping a short stint in captivity.

White Mane is the fierce leader of a plentiful herd until a group of herdsman wrangle him, fence him in and attempt to tame him.

The horse breaks free only to find he is dragging an unrelenting boy through the mud, as the boy tries to rope and ride the wild horse. The boy’s iron will does not allow him to let go and eventually he beats out the horse. An unfortunate series of events follows, but the boy never gives up on the horse.

As if the story of a boy and his horse is not alluring enough, the film takes full advantage of nature and its splendor. The horses roam free, the marshland is decorated with lush vegetation and the rolling waves of the nearby beach add to the film’s rugged appeal.

Aside from the captivating landscape, the film is action-packed with hot pursuits, horse brawls and life-threatening dangers. While it may not be the intense action with which an audience is familiar, it’s certainly entertaining just the same.

With virtually no dialogue in either film, the sentiment is well-pronounced, and the music is a nice complement to the heartfelt gestures shared between the main characters and their companions.

The photographer-turned-filmmaker relies on interpretive action, precise musical scores and uncomplicated ideas to portray strong imagery and storylines.

The films allow viewers to draw their own conclusions about the statements Lamorisse is trying to make, and they are definitely a worthwhile way to enjoy a relaxing summer breeze in the park.

The Red Balloon and White Mane are timeless relics that have been praised for their emotional candor and sparse dialogue rightly so.

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