Janus Films: The Red Balloon and White Mane

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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arsonfilms
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#76 Post by arsonfilms » Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:02 am

Please re-read the last three or four posts.

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Jeff
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#77 Post by Jeff » Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:10 am

The release of Patriotism at $24.95 makes me think that these two may follow the same price point. Hopefully the supplements will be just as generous. These are the possibilities that I can think of:

The Red Balloon:
• short story adaptation by Albert Lamorisse.
Le Voyage en ballon (Stowaway in the Sky), the feature-length pseudo-sequel to The Red Balloon. The American version was narrated by Jack Lemmon. Home Vision released the VHS version, and I'm betting Janus still has the rights.
Paris jamais vu, a 20-minute documentary short directed and photographed by Lamorisse. A clip of the aerial footage can be viewed here.
Versailles, another 20-minute aerial footage doc short by Lamorisse

White Mane:
• original French narration, original English narration, new English narration
• story adaptation written by James Agee
Bim (Bim, The Little Donkey), Lamorisse's 45-minute first film. The story of an Arab boy and his donkey who is taken from him. Written and narrated by Jacques Prévert. Janus owned the rights and licensed the VHS to Embassy Video in the 80s.
Le Songe des chevaux sauvages (Dream of Wild Horses), Lamorisse's 11-minute doc showcasing slow-motion footage of horses. Again narrated by Prévert.

Surely there will also be some kind of documentary or interviews about Albert Lamorisse, whom I believe had a close relationship with Janus throughout his career. Again, all of the potential supplements mentioned above are complete speculation on my part. If they include all of that (especially the longer films), I could see these drifting up into the standard Criterion price points.

I believe Janus may also still own the rights to Lamorisse's feature-length Fifi la plume (Circus Angel). It is another one that they licensed to Embassy for VHS release in the 80s. It doesn't really make sense as a supplement to either Red Balloon or White Mane, but I also can't picture Criterion releasing it on it's own. I could envision a potential Eclipse Lamorisse set with Circus Angel, Stowaway in the Sky, and Bim the Little Donkey if Criterion decides not to include the latter two as supplements here.

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JonDambacher
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#78 Post by JonDambacher » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:25 am

Being a giant Lamorisse fan this would be amazing. However, considering the coming Janus/Criterion release, at such the low price that it's been listed at... I'm quite sorry to assume none of these features will be on this release. I, with you Jeff, have been harping about an Eclipse release. (I'm still quite eager for some love to be shown, regarding Eclipse, both for Mike Nichols and Ub Iwerks.)

--Jon Dambacher

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Jeff
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#79 Post by Jeff » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:38 am

JonDambacher wrote:considering the coming Janus/Criterion release, at such the low price that it's been listed at... I'm quite sorry to assume none of these features will be on this release.
I am not referring to the versions that are being released at the end of this month. Those are indeed featureless. Criterion president Peter Becker has stated that full Criterion special editions of The Red Balloon and White Mane will be available this fall.

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criterionsnob
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#80 Post by criterionsnob » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:13 pm


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davebert
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#81 Post by davebert » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:59 pm

After a few years' hiatus, I've dusted off my reviewer's cap and taken on these three discs in a review for my current employer, the website for the New York Int'l Children's Film Festival...

GKIDS.TV Review (mine)

The news on the discs is good, although I'll be interested to see what extras they can cull for the Fall releases, since that's the only obvious weakness.

If you're too cheap to splurge on $10 discs, I've also got the Festival to put together a giveaway contest over these discs, so if you want to go to the site, join and comment on any video (takes all of two minutes). Let's say the competition means your odds are pretty good...

karmajuice
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#82 Post by karmajuice » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:09 am

I watched The Red Balloon on TCM earlier today and became interested in some moments in the film, especially regarding some parallels with White Mane, which I saw several months ago. I haven't found much serious discussion about the films, aside from some odd accusations made about The Red Balloon (like Christian undertones, which hardly seems something to criticize even if they're present, and the bourgeois notion of accumulation being equivalent to happiness, which is absurd given the funereal celebration the ending evokes).

The moment in The Red Balloon that stood out occurs when the boy and the balloon are at the open-air market, with what looks like antique furniture. The balloon drifts over to a mirror and seems to look at itself, suggesting self-awareness (the key to sentience being self-awareness?). At the same time, the boy looks at a painting of a girl with a rolling hoop toy, which seems to indicate a parallel recognition or awareness, but really reveals an inverse: the painting is a girl (the other sex) and her toy is a hoop rather than a red balloon. The balloon suddenly takes on a phallic quality, with the hoop being its vaginal counterpart, the children's respective toys representing their sex. This makes the balloon looking into the mirror seem even more significant, maybe a sexuality becoming aware of itself. This scene is immediately followed by the exchange between the girl with the blue balloon, a sort of innocent flirtation/courting carried out by proxy through the balloons. The juxtaposition of these two scenes has a pretty clear resonance, but these ideas don't really seem to permeate the film; they are an isolated incident (made a bit unnerving by the fact that the girl might be the boy's real life sister). The matter of sexuality is more fully fleshed out in White Mane (which I discuss just below), but that makes these scenes no less interesting.

While watching White Mane I could not for the life of me escape a very sexually charged reading of the film (not that I was reading critically while watching it the first time, but even a casual reading left this impression). Something about children and horses just evokes burgeoning sexuality (I don't know how many books involve a girl breaking her hymen while riding horseback and I don't care to guess; I suspect it's a terribly high number). Of course the horse is a very powerful and masculine symbol and the hero of this story is a boy (a distinctly fey/feminine boy). Whether it should be read as an awakening of homosexual desire, I don't know. The ideas are so abstract it would be safer to identify it with an unspecified sexuality, but the images and the relationship between the boy and the horse conveyed a very specific idea to me.
Both The Red Balloon and White Mane feature non-human companions accompanying the boys. Both are pursued by an outside force composed of several men (children in the case of the balloon, but all boys) and are ultimately chased off or defeated in some way. Still, the balloon feels more like a platonic companion, in spite of some suggestion (the string-holding, for instance, could be seen as hand-holding), while the presence of the horse has a clearly sexual dimension. The boy in White Mane is also much closer to puberty than the boy with the balloon, which reinforces the notion.

Aside from similar companions, the two films have one other striking similarity: their endings. Both end with an ambiguous departure, where the boys not only leave with their companions, but are borne off by them, carried or taken. The endings suggest that a child cannot live in this world, that to live happily one must die (leave) during childhood to escape the world/society (the boys and the French cowboys) and growing up. The films paint the endings romantically, so some abstract notion of happiness or resolution is reached, but they both feature a boy being brought to a place uninhabitable by man (sky/ocean), an act of escape akin to suicide. They also both feature the death of the companion (the balloon clearly dies, but the horse is ambiguous, only as likely to die as the boy riding it).

Anyway, I liked both films immensely. Of the two, I think I enjoyed The Red Balloon more, but White Mane mystified me more, which is basically the same thing.
Any thoughts? I haven't read much beside nostalgia regarding these films and I'd like to know if anyone else even thinks it's worth the time :P

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tryavna
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#83 Post by tryavna » Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:14 pm

A very interesting interpretation of both films, Karmajuice. I find your reading of Red Balloon quite compelling, but your reading of White Mane less so. I think that your following reading of the latter film:
karmajuice wrote:While watching White Mane I could not for the life of me escape a very sexually charged reading of the film (not that I was reading critically while watching it the first time, but even a casual reading left this impression). Something about children and horses just evokes burgeoning sexuality (I don't know how many books involve a girl breaking her hymen while riding horseback and I don't care to guess; I suspect it's a terribly high number). Of course the horse is a very powerful and masculine symbol and the hero of this story is a boy (a distinctly fey/feminine boy). Whether it should be read as an awakening of homosexual desire, I don't know. The ideas are so abstract it would be safer to identify it with an unspecified sexuality, but the images and the relationship between the boy and the horse conveyed a very specific idea to me.
is a bit too 19th-century. Horses do indeed serve as symbols for male sexuality (and often of a destructively passionate form of male sexuality) throughout 19th-century literature. However, that begins to change in the early 20th century -- probably with the advent of automobiles and the removal of horses from everyday life. In the 20th century, horses become more symbolic of natural freedom that exists outside of -- and frequently in conflict with -- modern social order. Another example that comes to mind is in George Cukor's film Wild Is the Wind, in which Anna Mangani feels a kinship with a wild horse and later feels devastated when that horse is broken/tamed (all of which parallels her growing frustrations with her marriage to Anthony Quinn). At any rate, I think that this reading of the horse-as-symbol makes a great deal more sense in White Mane: the boy is a sort of "noble savage," like the horse, and together they choose escape at the end rather than corralling by society.

At the same time, I think a number of people here have actually expressed surprise at the degree to which the director sexualizes the boy in White Mane (tight, torn trousers, a topless scene, etc.). So perhaps there is something more there.

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tavernier
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#84 Post by tavernier » Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:05 pm

Equus, anyone? (Sorry--it's on Broadway right now starring Harry Potter and I can't escape it.)

karmajuice
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#85 Post by karmajuice » Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:25 pm

I've been saturated in 19th century literature for the past few years, so that might account for my perspective being a little skewed. However, I did have Equus in mind when considering this (I intended to mention it but forgot), and the boy having such a sexualized appearance was a big part of my reading it this way (otherwise I'd be more inclined to take the alternative you proposed, which is obviously just as, if not more, valid). I lack a real argument for my observations, though, and I'm not clear on what they might be trying to express (sexual awakening? a first relationship? etc). I'm just not sure how to put White Mane into words, which could be attributed to how it mystifies me.

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souvenir
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#86 Post by souvenir » Sat Sep 20, 2008 12:52 am

DVD Empire has a listing up for these two paired together at $19.95 retail

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Svevan
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Re: ??? - ??? The Red Balloon and White Mane

#87 Post by Svevan » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:21 pm

Did the magical special editions of these flicks get canned? No word in months...

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Minkin
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Re: Janus Films: The Red Balloon and White Mane

#88 Post by Minkin » Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:49 pm

If anyone was wondering what happened to the special Fall '08 release date, here is some discouraging news from Mulvaney:
I'm sorry, we have no immediate plans to release these films with supplements.

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Svevan
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Re: Janus Films: The Red Balloon and White Mane

#89 Post by Svevan » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:53 am

That glorious bitch.

Nothing
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Re: Janus Films: The Red Balloon and White Mane

#90 Post by Nothing » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:13 am

Oh well. There's always the UK Region Free Blu-Ray, but, of course, it doesn't have Criterion branding on it...

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Jeff
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Re: Janus Films: The Red Balloon and White Mane

#91 Post by Jeff » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:34 pm

Nothing wrote:Oh well. There's always the UK Region Free Blu-Ray, but, of course, it doesn't have Criterion branding on it...
Unfortunately, it only has PAL supplements, so it might as well be bare bones for my purposes.

All of these supplements in my fantasy version should actually owned by Janus, so I'm not sure what the problem is.

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Re: Janus Films: The Red Balloon and White Mane

#92 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:30 pm


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cpetrizzi
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Re: Janus Films: The Red Balloon and White Mane

#93 Post by cpetrizzi » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:58 pm

Didn't Criterion release the box set Three Children's Classics From Janus Films which includes Paddle to the Sea? If so, could someone post an image of theirs? I've been after this one for a while now.

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Yaanu
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Re: Janus Films: The Red Balloon and White Mane

#94 Post by Yaanu » Sun Sep 09, 2018 12:57 am

cpetrizzi wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:58 pm
Didn't Criterion release the box set Three Children's Classics From Janus Films which includes Paddle to the Sea? If so, could someone post an image of theirs? I've been after this one for a while now.
From the look of things, the three films were released together in April 2008 but went out of print some time before 2012, despite the three films still being in-print as single titles. Other than the cover artwork shown below, I can't seem to find any packaging shots of the box set itself. My guess is that it was just a compilation box set similar to A Whit Stillman Trilogy and Olivier's Shakespeare, in that it was released less as a collector's edition and more to make it easier for buyers to get all three at once.

Image

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britcom68
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Re: Janus Films: The Red Balloon and White Mane

#95 Post by britcom68 » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:07 am

Earlier this year, my best friend became a father for the first time and had mentioned he was wanting a good copy of the book of Paddle to the Sea. I had forgotten all about the Janus release on dvd until that conversation reminded me of its existence. I checked my Criterion wish-list page recently and this Janus Children set is no longer showing under my profile. I have searched both ebay and Amazon thoroughly, as well as Half Price Books online, and I have yet to see a single photo of the packaging. I know that these are not the only places to check, but those are the vendors that I have had the best shipping experiences with in the past. I have seen a few copies available of a dual-lease of White Mane/Red Balloon available via third-party sellers, but that appears not to be exclusively associated with an official three-film set as far as I can make out since none of the sellers mention anything of a three-film set in their descriptions.

Although I am perturbed somewhat that this set seems to be difficult to track down online, I am even far more greatly worried that I know this had been a long-standing (long-suffering) item on my Criterion wish-list that has disappeared during their new transition to the new webpage design. I had not bothered to check my wish-list till now since I was waiting for the next 50% sale to update it, so I really have no idea when the set was taken out of my queue. Now I wonder if anyone else has found quirks with other OOP titles/sets no longer showing on their own wish-lists anymore.

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