Review: Two Balloons (2017)

Two Balloons (2017)

Directed by: Mark C. Smith | 9 minutes | animation, short film

When American filmmaker Mark Smith was sailing with his wife, he saw for the first time in his life a Cumulonimbus tuba, such a remarkable cloud shape in the shape of a funnel. This special experience was accompanied by a song in 3/4 time and that combination triggered the filmmaker. When he later heard the song More of a Composition by Peter Broderick (best known in the Netherlands for his contribution to ‘Now Is Good’), he knew he had found the composer for his film. Initially ‘Two Balloons’ was intended as a live action film, but that turned out not to be feasible. After a brainstorming session with Andrew Brown, the idea was established: it would be a stop-motion movie starring ring-tailed lemurs.

The fact that Smith and the team he gathered around him did not take the easy route is evidenced by the fact that no less than sixteen months were spent creating the storyboards and sets, before a single second was filmed. The crew, consisting of both stopmotion veterans and newcomers, found themselves in a kind of trial-and-error process, where mistakes could be learned and sometimes the most beautiful things emerged.

The result of all that hard work is a short film that radiates passion for film. The story is about two ring-tailed lemurs who find each other in the sky while sailing in a hot air balloon. Sparks fly, but before they can deepen their friendship, Mother Nature throws a spanner in the works.

‘Two Balloons’ is a visual masterpiece that touches the viewer’s heart through the combination of the beautiful music and the moving figures. Despite not saying a word, the video speaks volumes. That is the merit of the expressive figures, who make their emotions clear with small gestures and the dreamy music. Smith also leaves the core of the creatures intact – although you will never see a ring-tailed lemur in a balloon in real life, they retain certain characteristics that you don’t see in other animated films, where animated animals often become human right away. A film to lose yourself in, so beautiful.

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