715. Billy’s Balloon – Don Hertzfeldt

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SUMMARY: A small child’s balloon suddenly and inexplicably turns against him, sparking similar instances of balloon attacks across the country.

WHY IT’S HERE: Don Hertzfeldt’s final student film ‘Billy’s Balloon’ is a key work in terms of defining the director’s sense of humour and particularly his exquisite comic timing. The combination of the amusing and mildly horrifying that would surface again in Hertzfeldt’s subsequent work is to the fore here, as a young boy is put through a series of tortures by his balloon. The idea is simple but strange enough to be funny in and of itself but Hertzfeldt gets six minutes of mileage out of it through the deliberately unusual pacing of several of the jokes, as well at the perfectly captured looks of shock on his characters’ faces. With his 21st century films Hertfeldt became more ambitious, combining big laughs and blackly comic subject matter with a philosophical outlook and moments of quiet pathos.

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