Paddle to the Sea

"Very Good"

Paddle to the Sea Review


Those looking for simplicity and elegance in children's films need search no further than Paddle to the Sea, Bill Mason's 1966 short film (based on the children's book of the same name) about a toy canoe and its adventure from mountainous Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean, by way of snow melt, rivers, and the Great Lakes.

The sub-30-minute story begins with a bored Canadian boy carving a canoe (with Indian passenger), which he plans to use to test the theory that all water eventually winds up in the Ocean. He has no way to really verify this, but that's one of this film's charms. Completing the canoe, he sets him on the snow in the wintry north and leaves it to its own devices. As the snow melts, "Paddle" (as he's soon known) zips downhill, into a river, and across body of water after body of water en route to the shore.

Obstacles abound: Predatory fish. The threat of being beached on the land. Container ships. And in the film's most disturbing moment: Sewage pouring into the water. Of course, there are plenty of kids who'd love to take Paddle home, but an inscription on the bottom and a word or two from dad always sends Paddle back into the water.

Adventurous journeys have made for plenty of compelling movies before, but I can't think of any that involved an inanimate protagonist. But perhaps that's why the film is so powerful. Delving into both the glory and occasional cruelty of both nature and man, we don't have a flesh-and-blood hero to worry about and distract us along the way. And yet, at the same time, you'd have to be more heartless than the Grinch to not want to see Paddle complete his quest.



Paddle to the Sea

Facts and Figures

Run time: 28 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 1st February 1969

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Bill Mason

Producer: Julian Biggs

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