Thursday, August 09, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—White Mane (1953) ***

NR, 40 min.
Director: Albert Lamorisse
Writers: Albert Lamorisse, Denys Colomb de Duanant (adaptation), James Agee (commentary)
Starring: Alain Emery, Laurent Roche, Clan-Clan
Narrator: Frank Silvera

“White Mane” is a short film by the same director of “The Red Balloon” (1956). Albert Lamorisse’s better known “Balloon” is about a boy who chases a balloon all over Paris. The balloon seems to have its own will and personality and it befriends the child. “White Mane” tells a similar story about a boy who tames a wild stallion. Both films won the best short film at the Cannes Film Festival in their respective years.

“Mane” is a little simpler than “Balloon” and a little more dated by its filming techniques. It’s black and white photography, however, is one of its greatest aspects. The cinematography is simply beautiful. Lengthy passages of the 40-minute film just observe the horse in the beautiful Southern France coastal setting.

There are also moments of terse brutality when two horses fight for dominance of their heard. Watching these animals tear at each other is like watching an old episode of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. The narration also evokes an old-fashioned nature documentary despite the fictitious nature of the story.  The story evokes thoughts of Carroll Ballard’s “The Black Stallion”, which certainly took much inspiration from this classic film.

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