Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Lovers' Wind

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Tonight I watched Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon on KCET. In many ways the movie is very much similar to The Little Prince: it is made for children but goes beyond that, it is extremely poetic, and it can be understood in a very mystic way. If somebody wants to know where the first movies of Abbas Kiarostami are coming from, Lamorisse is the answer.

Lamorisse had a very rich and short life. He made several short feature films and documentaries between the late 1940s and 1970, the year he died in a helicopter crash. He died while he was making a movie, Le Vent des amoureux (Baade Sabaa in Persian, or The Lovers' Wind in English.) The documentary was commissioned by the pre-revolutionary Iranian regime, to be used as a professionally made propaganda movie about the process of modernization in Iran. Instead, as it could be expected, Lamorisse made a lyrical movie narrated by a wind, Sabaa, traveling around the country and telling the viewer about the history and culture of Iran. The movie is mostly aerial shots implying a wind's view.

In 1970 when Shah saw the movie, he didn't liked it. He asked Lamorisse to add new scenes to the movie talking about him as the great leader of the country and the modernized of face Iran, meaning the newly build dams, neon lights in the streets of Tehran, and the newly build Hilton Hotel. One can imagine how Lamorisse would have felt about this. Since the shooting of the movie was finished by that time Lamorisse couldn't use the special Helicopter and features needed for the new aerial shots, they were not available any more. So instead he used the helicopter and the pilot that was provided by the Iranian Army. That proved to be a wrong choice. The helicopter and the pilot probably were not able to do the same kind of movements he expected them to do. In june 1970 Lamorisse and the crew of the helicopter died in a Helicopter crash in the Karaj's dam lake. The movie was re-edited and released 8 years later in 1978, when a revolution made all those talks about neon lights and dams unnecessary.

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For reading The Red Baloon go here.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post. I checked out The Red Balloon...very nice. In a strange way it reminded me of a Yugoslav animation from the Zagreb School. It is about a middle aged man and his new inflatable sex doll that travels around London with him. Also, very similar endings if you can imagine all the blow up dolls of London taking the man up into the sky. I know it sounds odd, but there are parrallels. Unfortunately I can't name the animation but I know it exists in a compilation called the Zagreb School (3 dvd set)...some of the best animation I've seen. The animator would have seen Lamorisse's film.

    Ali.

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  2. Interesting! I am looking for Eastern European and Russian animations on DVD. Is there anywhere online I can find them?

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  3. The film I was referring to is part of a 2000 series called The Best of Zagreb Film...Nudity Required. It’s a three dvd compilation of a number of award winning animations from the 70’s and 80s. The Dream Doll is the one that reminded me of The Red Balloon. I know you can find it up on Amazon...your Gen-X type of video store may carry it as well. I came across them through a good Croatian friend of mine...some of the animations are truly great, especially the ones with a feminine perspective.

    There is also another great animation called Fantastic Planet by Rene Laloux – it won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973. It is a French-Czech co-production that was politically motivated and ultimately escaped the wrath of Soviet censorship. This one is easier to find because of the Cannes award.

    By the way, The Lover's Wind is really hard to find! Almost no mention of it anywhere.

    Ali.

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  4. In Los Angeles you can find The Lover's Wind in Iranian bookshops in Westwood avenue. The Persian name is "Baad-e Sabaa." The quality is horrible, but it is better than nothing.

    Thanks for the information about the DVDs. I checked them out on Amazon. Is there any collection of Hungarian animation you know about? They are great too... less funny compared to Zagreb school, but darker in their nature, and sometime deeper. I specially like the works of Marcell Jankovic.

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  5. hi there,
    do you know if it's possible to buy or rent "le vent des amoureux"?

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  6. In Los Angeles you probably can buy it at the Iranian bookstores in Westwood boulevard.

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  7. you can watch it online here: http://www.ubu.com/film/lamorisse_vent.html

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