Elissa’s film, “The Black Balloon”, demonstrates how prejudices and preconceived notions can have a negative impact on normal family life. Down shows how prejudice can affect a family’s life. The Mullisons live in an unfriendly area that demonstrates this. The negative implications that can be drawn from judging one’s family are also highlighted. This is most evident in Thomas’s struggles with Charlie. Down’s movie shows the fragility in one acceptance. Thomas can turn to Jackie for guidance in accepting his brother.
Thomas experiences social exclusion, and prejudgment because of his family’s dynamics. This has a large impact on Thomas’s ability to accept and be happy in his new neighborhood. The Mullison family is confronted by prejudices from neighbors as they move into their new community. They start to see the Mullison family as being “spastic” and begin to hold a negative view. They keep their distance from the Mullison family and express their disapproval towards them because they are different. Thomas suffers cruelty from his schoolmates. Thomas is alienated by Down using Mid-shots. This is when Thomas is standing in front of his peers at school and is wearing a uniform that is different to the rest. This shows the unaccepting nature of his peers. The Black Balloon is a depiction of Thomas’ constant rejection due to family dynamics he has preconceived. Thomas is constantly struggling because he has not been embracing Charlie. In the film, it is clear that Thomas wants “nothing” with Charlie. He wishes that he was “not (his) brother”. Thomas’ negative outlook towards Charlie causes him pain and makes it difficult for himself. These problems include the birthday fight scenes and poo-smearing. Thomas hides that Charlie is his brother. Which is Thomas’ external world and Thomas trying to hide the fact that Charlie is his brother. While it was difficult initially, the Mullison’s agreed that Charlie was happier once they accepted him. Thomas’s father says to him, “If you don’t care for your own, you’re piss-weak.” This is a powerful moment that has an impact on viewers. Down shows Thomas his understanding and realization of the injustice of not wanting Charlie. Down also shows the positive results of being open to one’s loved ones. This is illustrated when Thomas and Charlie are in a shared bath. They are smiling, laughing, and it is clear that they have accepted each other. Thomas needed to be aided in accepting Charlie.
Down shows us that accepting ourselves is hard and difficult. But sometimes we need to be open to the possibility that others will help us. This theme is highlighted when Thomas embraces Charlie with the help Jackie. Thomas tries to keep Charlie from his school peers. He shoves Charlie in his bedroom hoping that no one will see Thomas’ true family life. Thomas eventually discovers that his brother is autistic. Down uses Jackie to guide Thomas, who learns that Charlie isn’t going to change. Down takes Charlie, Thomas and Jackie through an obstacle-course in the middle. This is used as a symbol of the inner struggle between all the characters. However it is common in Thomas’s struggle for acceptance. The characters overcome the obstacles and find their way to the end, just as Thomas does with Charlie. Thomas’s self-improvement and maturity are also shown through his age and birthday. Down uses this scene to show that Thomas is growing and accepting Charlie. The reconciliation scene between the brothers is the final one. Close-ups show Thomas’ conflicted emotions of nostalgia and discomfort. Contrary to what the film portrays, it ends with a happy and heartwarming ending. Thomas finally accepts his brother for who they are, thanks to Jackie’s guidance and assistance.
The Black Balloon explores how prejudice can be caused by different family dynamic. Down also highlights the problems that can be caused by judging one’s own family. Thomas wanting nothing to do Charlie causes stress and unnecessary fighting. Thomas comes to terms with Charlie after the help of others.