#99 – 99 Red Balloons

(1993, GB, 101 min) Dir Adrian Fisher. Cast Alan Paul, Peter Capaldi, Susan Trevlyn.

The threat of nuclear annihilation had only just dissipated when, ever the contrarian, Adrian Fisher produced this, a strange kind of love story to the spectre of mutually assured destruction. It’s 1984 and Harvey’s parents are building a bomb shelter in the back yard. He’s doesn’t see this as some dire portent of doom however – on the contrary he finds the prospect of nuclear war very exciting, dreaming of a bright and beautiful mushroom cloud filling the skies over his hometown and telling his teacher that his classes don’t matter because he and all the other children will be dead before they’re grown up. When a teacher finds his notebook filled with drawings of atomic explosions, crumbling buildings and irradiated corpses with their skin melting off they naturally call in his parents who it turns out are just as pessimistic as their son. Of course this being a Fisher film the fantastical is never far away with their neighbour across the road being, as Harvey sees it, a Soviet communist spy who, again as Harvey sees it, must be encouraged to endanger everyone’s life and trigger the inevitable apocalypse. This was produced on the back of the surprise success of By the Light of the Blood Moon and the bigger budget is certainly visible. The titular song gets a good workout too, embodying Harvey’s ideal of happiness in destruction.

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