Ballard. Carroll Ballard made only a total of six films over his career. Four of those six landed in the archives- one per decade in the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s. They are wondrously photographed and all feature animals predominately in their stories. He’s a nature photographer. The body of work for Ballard is what lands him here. There’s a consistency here that is certainly worthy of praise. The weakness would be just the one film that lands in the top 100 of its respective decade: The Black Stallion– his debut.
Best film: The Black Stallion. As impressive as the rest of his collective resume is: Never Cry Wolf, Fly Away Home, and Duma — I don’t think I’m out of line in staying that Ballard never fully realized the promise of the undeniable talent on display in his debut here. The first half of the film, in particular, on the island shot on location in Sardinia, Italy—is utterly breathtaking.
total archiveable films: 4
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 1 (The Black Stallion)
most overrated: Ballard does not have an overrated film. None of his films show up on either of the TSPDT consensus lists.
most underrated : The Black Stallion. I’m not sure why this one is forgotten by the consensus. Ballard and his DP here, Caleb Deschanel, have a momentous achievement on their hands. Maybe if Malick hadn’t made Days of Heaven the year before, this is the late 1970’s film with magic hour photography we’d be talking about now.
gem I want to spotlight : Never Cry Wolf. I think Fly Away Home was a decent hit with stars Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin (both very good) so I think people have seen that. Duma is Ballard’s most recent, and Black Stallion the film he’ll undoubtedly be remembered for- so this one is the most likely to get skipped/missed- and it shouldn’t.
- Films with beautiful exterior photography– of nature, featuring animals, with little dialogue, a simply story (usually a sort of fable)
- Tales of freedom—a child, or animal-lover up against a corrupt machine or system.
- Collaborations with justifiably famous cinematography Caleb Deschanel—they worked together on Stallion and Fly Away Home
- The Black Stallion
- Never Cry Wolf
- Fly Away Home
By year and grades
|1979- The Black Stallion||HR|
|1983- Never Cry Wolf||R|
|1996- Fly Away Home||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives