Wednesday, June 30, 2004
The Lovers' Wind
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.
For reading The Red Baloon go here.