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With: n/a
Written by: Holling C. Holling
Directed by: Bill Mason
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 28
Date: 03/19/2013

Paddle to the Sea (1966)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hope Floating

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I saw this film more than once when I was in grade school, projected in 16mm, and I've always remembered it. It depicts the journey of a carved wooden canoe with an American Indian figurine as its sole occupant. The film lovingly details the process of Paddle's birth, the carving and painting, and filling the bottom of the boat with molten lead to keep him upright in the water. He runs into various land and sea creatures, ice, waterfalls and other obstacles, while a narrator charts his progress. In one unforgettable sequence, Paddle floats by a fireworks display, and only his silhouette is visible. Directed by Bill Mason, the movie doesn't really anthropomorphize Paddle, which saves the film from being too cutesy. We follow him not as an Indian, but as a symbol of a journey. The film was adapted from the children's book by Holling C. Holling, and it received an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short. Janus Films released the 2008 DVD, at a bargain price with no frills.

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