The Black Balloon (film)

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The Black Balloon
TheBlackBalloon Official-Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byElissa Down
Produced byTristram Miall
Toni Collette
Written byElissa Down
Jimmy Jack
StarringRhys Wakefield
Luke Ford
Toni Collette
Erik Thomson
Gemma Ward
Music byMichael Yezerski
CinematographyDenson Baker
Editing byVeronika Jenet
StudioIcon Entertainment International
Distributed byNeoClassics Films
Release dates6 March 2008 (AUS)
5 December 2008 (USA)
Running time97 min.
CountryAustralia
United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
BudgetA$5 million
Box office$2,136,663[specify]
 
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The Black Balloon
TheBlackBalloon Official-Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byElissa Down
Produced byTristram Miall
Toni Collette
Written byElissa Down
Jimmy Jack
StarringRhys Wakefield
Luke Ford
Toni Collette
Erik Thomson
Gemma Ward
Music byMichael Yezerski
CinematographyDenson Baker
Editing byVeronika Jenet
StudioIcon Entertainment International
Distributed byNeoClassics Films
Release dates6 March 2008 (AUS)
5 December 2008 (USA)
Running time97 min.
CountryAustralia
United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
BudgetA$5 million
Box office$2,136,663[specify]

The Black Balloon is a 2008 Australian/British AFI award-winning dramedy feature film that stars Toni Collette, Rhys Wakefield, Luke Ford, Erik Thomson, Gemma Ward as well as a cast of newcomers. It is directed by first-time feature film director, Elissa Down.[1]

The film was released in Australian cinemas on 6 March 2008. The world premiere was at the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany in February 2008, where the film received a Crystal Bear as the best feature-length film in the Generation 14plus category.[2]

Plot[edit]

Fifteen-year-old Thomas Mollison (Rhys Wakefield) and his family move to a new home in the early 1990s. He is anxious because he has to start at a new school, and make new friends - all he wants is to do is fit in and be regarded in the same way as everyone else. However, it seems he struggles to achieve this goal. Although his family appears to be a fairly happy one, Thomas often feels isolated; it seems as if his mother only dotes upon his brother, Charlie (Luke Ford), and does not pay any attention to him. Thomas, however, is devoted to his brother and shows affection for him. Charlie is Thomas's older brother who lives with autism, as well as Attention Deficit Disorder. Charlie enjoys dressing up like a monkey, playing computer games using a Commodore 64 and receiving gold stars for good behaviour. Charlie communicates with the rest of his family by using Sign Language.

When their heavily pregnant mother, Maggie, (Toni Collette) must take a rest owing to a recommendation by her doctor as a consequence of Maggie's high blood pressure, Thomas is put in charge of Charlie. Thomas finds this task difficult and onerous. For example, when Charlie flees from the house in a high-spritited mood, Thomas runs after him in order to ensure the safety of his brother. Thomas is unable to keep up with Charlie. Matters become even more problematic when Charlie expresses the urge to go to the bathroom and enters the nearest house in order to use the toilet. When he does so, the brothers encounter Jackie (Gemma Ward) who is taking a shower. The fact that both brothers are only wearing their underwear is a source of severe embarrassment for Thomas.

Jackie exhibits her interest in Thomas when she attends a C.P.R. class at school as well as visits Thomas at his home in order to return Charlie's monkey hat he left when he used Jackie's toilet. Thomas's first response is to ensure that his brother is hidden away from Jackie. Maggie, however, is less than thrilled when she discovers that Thomas has locked Charlie in his bedroom, who then proceeds to rub his own faeces into the carpet. Thomas becomes frustrated and tells Maggie that Charlie is her responsibility. Maggie replies that Charlie will never be able to have a job, nor a family and will likely remain living with his parents for the rest of his life.

This latest episode proves too much for Maggie. Her husband insists that she spend the rest of her pregnancy in the hospital, leaving Thomas to become the primary caregiver for Charlie. Thomas begins to enter into Charlie's world when he rides the bus for children with various disabilities with his brother along with dealing with Charlie when he has a meltdown due to over stimulation inside a local supermarket, leading to yet again severe embarrassment for Thomas. When Thomas attends his swimming class, Jackie wears Charlie's monkey ears, which pleases and amuses him. When Jackie meets Charlie, she makes a concerted effort to know and understand him, as well as to use Sign Language as a means by which to communicate with Charlie.

Thomas and his father endeavour to care for Charlie. Simon tells Thomas that his mother is grateful to have Charlie as a child because she feels that the family is strong enough to be able to look after him. Representatives from Youth and Community Services visit the house and state that they have received complaints about Charlie. Simon is furious at his neighbour whom he attributes responsibility for the invasive visit. Thomas also displays his loyalty to his brother. Charlie accompanies Jackie and Thomas to swim in a river. When it rains, they all shelter in a nearby drainpipe where Jackie and Thomas share their first kiss. When the boys arrive home, there is a note taped to the television which states that Maggie has given birth to a girl.

When Thomas sees Charlie at his school, Charlie becomes the victim of malicious taunting and harassment. Jackie tells Thomas that he needs to quit wishing that Charlie was 'normal.' Tensions flare when Jackie eats a roast dinner with the family in order to celebrate Thomas's sixteenth birthday. Jackie wonders whether or not Charlie will ever speak again. Thomas is confident that Charlie will if everyone will stop communicating with him using Sign Language. When Charlie begins masturbating at the table, causing Jackie to become extremely uncomfortable, Thomas becomes irate and smashes Charlie's Super Nintendo console, leading to a fight between the brothers. After a physical altercation between the two brothers, Maggie exhibits sympathy for both of her sons. In spite of his mother's commiseration, Thomas still feels as if he behaved badly. In the morning, Thomas joins Charlie in his morning activity: sitting in the backyard while banging a wooden spoon on the ground.

The family attend a school musical production entitled 'Animals Afloat,' in which Charlie portrays a monkey. After Charlie's theatrical partner, Russell, has a meltdown on stage, Thomas and Charlie both don monkey costumes and give an outstanding performance. The brothers celebrate their success by taking a bubble bath together. Thomas confesses to his brother that when he was little, he used to fall asleep at night, wishing that Charlie would be normal. Charlie looks thoughtful. The film concludes with Thomas laughing and asking Charlie; 'You just pissed on my leg, didn't you?' The brothers then share a laugh together.

Cast[edit]

The Afloat! segment was cast from a group of teens and young adults whose lives are affected by autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Some of the Afloat! cast have high-functioning autism themselves, others were their siblings. This reflected the "two by two" nature of the Noah's Ark theme as well as continued the theme of siblings working together and loving one another. As you watch, you cannot tell who has autism and who does not.

Reception[edit]

The Black Balloon received positive reviews. The first weekend of release, The Black Balloon was number 10 on the Australian box office with an intake of $500,000. Rotten Tomatoes reported that, based on 19 reviews 95% of them were positive.[3]

Awards[edit]

The Black Balloon won, on 11 November 2008, the Best Children’s Feature Film in the 2008 Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The award was accepted by Producer Tristram Miall and Director/Writer/Co-Producer Elissa Down.[4][5][6]

Since then, The Black Balloon received numerous awards (and nominations) in Australia and at Film Festivals around the world:

Box office[edit]

The Black Balloon grossed $2,265,689 at the box office in Australia.[22]

Filming locations[edit]

Filming took place in the Sydney area at the following locations:

Soundtrack[edit]

  1. "When We Get There" – Josh Pyke
  2. "Even" – Simon Day (Ratcat)
  3. "Heartbreak Hill" – Michael Yezerski
  4. "The Black Balloon Theme" – Michael Yezerski
  5. "Bath Time" / "Bullet Boy" – Michael Yezerski
  6. "In The Poo" / "The Bus" – Michael Yezerski
  7. "The Lolly" – Michael Yezerski
  8. "A New Game" / "Water Babies" – Michael Yezerski
  9. "Learning To Swim" – Michael Yezerski
  10. "The Kiss" – Michael Yezerski
  11. "The School Fight" – Michael Yezerski
  12. "Fall at Your Feet" – Glenn Richards (Augie March)
  13. "Aftermath" – Michael Yezerski
  14. "The Walk Home" – Michael Yezerski
  15. "The Greatest ACT in History" – David Campbell, Bert Labonte
  16. "Afloat! The Conga" – Claire McCarthy, Miriam Rihani, Afro Moses

"Fall at Your Feet" is a rendition of the Neil Finn (Crowded House) song. The soundtrack won 'Best Original Soundtrack' at the 2008 APRA-AGSC Screen Music Awards for Michael Yezerski,[23] with Josh Pyke winning 'Best Original Song' for "When We Get There", which he co-wrote with Yezerski.[24] Songs also featuring in the film include "Better" by The Screaming Jets, "Don't Go Now" by Ratcat, "Streets of Your Town" by The Go Betweens, "Know You Know" by The Someloves and Jimmy Barnes' "Driving Wheels".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ CLPR (15 January 2007). "Press releases: Principal photography commences on The Black Balloon". Inside Film Magazine. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2007. 
  2. ^ Berlinale. "The Festival – Awards & Prizes – Prizes Generation". Retrieved 16 February 2008. 
  3. ^ The Black Balloon at Rotten Tomatoes
  4. ^ "Ebroadcast.Com.Au, Asia Pacific Screen Awards Winners Announced". Ebroadcast.com.au. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "in.reuters.com, Kazakh comedy wins Asia-Pacific best movie award". In.reuters.com. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  6. ^ 12 November 2008 12:00AM (12 November 2008). "theaustralian.news.com.au, Balloon Grabs Asia-Pac Screen Award". Theaustralian.news.com.au. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  7. ^ "... Just Tion! » Nordic And Baltic Kids For Kids". Cifej.org. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ bruce hunt. "Australian Directors Guild". ADG. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  10. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ [3][dead link]
  12. ^ "RoC Presents the "Gold Standard in Filmmaking" Award to A Winning Woman Filmmaker at The 16th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival". Jnj.com. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  13. ^ "Black Balloon notches up another film win – Film – Entertainment". smh.com.au. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  14. ^ "Inside Film: Film and Television Industry News and Issues for Australian Content Creators – Black Balloon audience choice at St Tropez". If.com.au. 27 October 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  15. ^ "Black Balloon, Underbelly claim soundtrack honours – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  16. ^ Iain Shedden, Music writer (4 November 2008). "Pyke gets there in Black Balloon | The Australian". Theaustralian.news.com.au. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  17. ^ "Western Australian Premier's Book Awards: State Library of Western Australia". Slwa.wa.gov.au. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  18. ^ [4][dead link]
  19. ^ "Black Balloon nabs 10 IF Award noms – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. 1 October 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  20. ^ "The Black Balloon wins 11 AFI nominations – Film – Entertainment". smh.com.au. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  21. ^ [5][dead link]
  22. ^ Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office[dead link]
  23. ^ "The Black Balloon and Underbelly claim music honours". The Age. 4 November 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2008. 
  24. ^ Shedden, Iain (4 November 2008). "Pyke gets there in Black Balloon". The Australian. Retrieved 8 December 2008. 

External links[edit]