Here’s another sweet, short, G-rated movie for the young’uns. Paddle to the Sea was recently re-released by Janus films, along with two other kids’ classics, The Red Balloon and White Mane. For some reason, Paddle to the Sea is not available via Netflix, but the other two films are available as a package. If you’ve never seen The Red Balloon, well, you must have grown up in a cave (or maybe Peoria). I think I saw it in grade school at least twice, and maybe again in junior high. It’s a magical, mostly silent film, about a boy and his balloon, set in Paris. It’s completely enchanting, and although a good part of the plot involves other boys bullying him about the balloon, by today’s standards it’s pretty mild stuff.
I haven’t seen White Mane, but reviews on both Netflix and IMDB warn parents of fairly graphic violence (animal cruelty) that won’t sit well with some. You’ll have to figure this one out on your own, unless I get to it first.
Paddle to the Sea is available at our locally owned video store, which is an amazing place for several reasons, but finding this gem on their shelves (with a “recommended by staff!” tag on it) says it all. They rock.
Since you may not find it at your own local purveyor, I’ll point you to buying it at Amazon or some such other outlet, and highly recommend you bundle it with Linnea in Monet’s Garden; what a great gift it would be for a five-or six- or seven-year old (or their parents).
Paddle to the Sea was first released in 1966, a short film from the National Film Board of Canada adapted from the1941 book by the same name. It tells the tale of a young boy in the Canadian woods who spends his winter evenings carving and painting a little canoe, with a stoic Native American Indian sitting upright inside. He decides the best way for this little vessel to live its life is to actually be set out on an adventure, and so he launches it in a nearby stream where it then travels through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, onto the Atlantic Ocean.
The boy painted “Put me back in the water” on the bottom of the boat, so whenever it was discovered by a human, it was put back where it was found, and so continued its journey. There are treacherous waterfalls, big ships, pollution, wildlife, toddlers with sticks and other perilous hurdles for the little wooden Indian and his canoe to overcome.
It’s less than a half hour long, and has that lovely, quietly languid feel shared by many films made for younger kids back in the day. Nothing hurried about it, nothing to get excited or anxious about, just a sweet little adventure unfolding before our eyes.
“Who knows how far you’ll go?”