Monday, December 30, 2013
Paddle to the Sea
A while back Criterion released three short children’s films, classic Red Balloon, White Mane and Paddle to the Sea. While everyone knows The Red Balloon (a grown up semi sequel was recently made in France) and many people know White Mane (Confession I’ve never seen it) most people have no idea what Paddle to the Sea is despite being based on a classic children's book.
The plot of Paddle to the Sea is simple. During the winter months in Canada, a man carves a small toy that is in the shape of an Indian in a canoe. He paints it and puts some lead on the bottom so that it will always float up right. Then after writing a note on the bottom that the canoe is to be returned to the water he places it in the snow where the melt will cause it to be carried to the river and eventually to the sea. We then watch as Paddle (that’s the name of the toy carved on the bottom) makes his way to the ocean.
I’ve seen Paddle any number of times over the years. I have no idea where I saw it for the first time, though I suspect it was in grammar school which seemed to show it semi regularly. I remember seeing it at the Garvies Point Museum in Glen Cove as part of a series of short films. I just thought it was cool that they were showing it. I also know I saw it on PBS several times because I remember being excited when I’d stumble on it.
I recently picked up the DVD and you know what, I still think it’s cool. The half hour journey of this toy boat is a grand adventure for the little ones or for anyone who likes grand adventure. It’s a story where you want to see what happens and care about the hero, which in this case is a toy boat. I’ve seen the film any number of times over the decades and I’m always held rapt by what happens. Yes I know how it all comes out, but I always seem to forget what exactly happens to get there...which makes revisiting the film so much fun.
See this film.