The Futility Factor

When I was a kid, my Mom was a school teacher and for my birthday parties we would get to watch movies. This was way, way, way before the days of VCRs and DVDs and DVRs and a pretty big forking deal.

She would bring home a film projector and we’d have to pick a movie and there weren’t ten trillion choices so we’d get some variation of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, I remember something with bears, or my favorite: Paddle to the Sea.

Wikipedia tells me that Paddle to the Sea was a 1941 children’s book by a Canadian writer named Holling C. Holling. (It’s a cool name but what were his parents thinking?)

The movie was made in 1966 and is about a boy who carves this Indian in a canoe and then after all his hard work, runs out to the front yard and lets it go in a stream. The movie follows the Indian canoe as it travels into bigger and bigger water. Being that I was a kid, I didn’t really get that the journey started in Canada and went through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic ocean.

I must have seen it at least a half dozen times because we also watched it at school. I still have vivid memories of the images of this film. The little canoe bobbing along next to ginormous ships. I would love to see it now and you can buy it from the National Film Board of Canada. I’m guessing demand is low as the only format is VHS.

Another movie that we watched at my birthday party and also at school at least once a year, every year, for-freaking-ever that I did not like was The Red Balloon. Omigod, I HATED that movie. Every time I had to watch it I’d come home from school and whine to my Mom. I can barely remember what I hated so much except I think it pissed me off that there was no dialogue and why was that dumb kid pointlessly chasing around this stupid red balloon?

Yesterday boingboing linked to the movie online I accidentally clicked on it and even just the opening credits made me mad. Ug, that music.

I also never liked the Great Pumpkin and I would link to it but the last two times I opened the imdb page, it crashed my browser. I think my problem with these stories was the futility factor. Linus stayed out in the pumpkin patch all night long: for nothing. That French kid had nothing better to do chase around a balloon that had a short expiration date. For proper literary scope, I should probably include a third example, but nothing is coming right now and this was intended to be a phoned in entry rather than an exhaustive study of my early cinematic experiences so I’m coming to a screeching halt right here.

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