The Big Snit and The Red Balloon

by holditnow

We arrived to the library with a sense of trepidation and wonder. I’d never seen so many books in my life. Our elementary school had a nice collection but this was the local public library – the big leagues. Row upon row and stack upon stack contained what seemed like countless volumes of alien script and knowledge that was a little intimidating for your average 7-year old. Before we had a chance to be completely overwhelmed; we were ushered into a side room. The room was set up like a make shift theater with  a reel to reel projector at the back and rows of chairs facing a pull down white screen. The lights were dimmed, the sound of the projector whirled to life and we were soon bathed in the light of Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon.

The Red Balloon tells the story of friendship, imagination and the wonders of childhood. The short thirty minute film  follows a young boy through the streets of 1956 Paris where he finds an unlikely companion in a vibrant red balloon.  After the boy rescues the balloon by untangling it from a streetlamp, it comes to life – becoming the ultimate imaginary friend. The balloon follows him wherever he goes, floating along the cobblestone streets of the ‘city of lights’.

I remember we sat transfixed in our seats following this unbelievably bright, round and shiny object contrast so vividly with its surroundings. We were content to watch Paris unfold before our eyes with the balloon as our unlikely tour guide. Before long the projector whirled to a stop and lights came on. We left the library and went back to school and continued with our regular routine. Decades later the experience of that day still lingers. I’m amazed at what a lasting impression this film has on the people who experienced it when they were children. After countless films and programs have come and gone from our minds, The Red Balloon remains. When people are reminded of the experience they tend to get a look of satisfaction and nostalgia on their face because it represents what’s good about childhood.

Another film that left a lasting impression on me from my childhood would have to be Richard Condie’s The Big Snit. Unlike the Red Balloon; the Big Snit is fast, loud, absurd and totally over the top.

A husband and wife are trying to enjoy a leisurely game of Scrabble when tensions escalate into a very big snit.

You looked at my letters.
Did not.
Did so.
I did not!
You did so! Stop sawing the table!
What? I am not…
You are so!
Well you should stop SHAKING YOUR EYES!
I.. I don’t shake em…
Yes you DO. You’re always shaking your eyes here, shaking your eyes there! Who don’t you go join some stupid… shake a rock a roll band, huh? Don’t shake your eyes at me lady!

The Oscar nominated The Big Snit (1985) is part of The National Film Board of Canada‘s wonderful tradition of animated shorts. Many of these films found their way to television usually to fill time between shorter programs. Other short films from the NFB that left a lasting impression include: The Sweater, The Logdriver’s Waltz and Walking.

I don’t know what kind of voodoo that librarian was spinning all those years ago but sometimes it’s the little things that leave the most lasting impressions.

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