My Verdict on Balance (1989) A Short Film
If one wants to understand the directors’ vision of the short film Balance, he/she would have to possess great knowledge of German history or be prepared to delve into the subject. The leading political parties in those days may have (and I use ‘may’ because I’m not entirely surely) curtailed the freedom of expression, which including films by censoring direct references or attacks against the government. Unless we have lived in those times or are as curious as Leo Tolstoy about World history, we may not understand many elements in Balance: the numbers on the… (What should I call them?) daunting figures, why these figures looked identical, and what the musical box represented etc, since they are represented symbolically.
But one can grasp a general idea about the film- some say it is about corruptive power, some feel the movie castigates materialism while a few reviewers with good historical knowledge talk about fascism and related topics. After a couple of watches, I observed one small detail that cleared some concepts in my mind- the person who was sitting on the box while the platform kept tilting left and right managed to eliminate most of his companions, and while at first he does this accidentally, by the end his deed is deliberate and cruel.
This made me think of the box as some form of throne or title. Before it arrives, the five work in perfect harmony till the contents of the box are heard by the characters. Then one decides to do away with the box (he possible prefers harmony) and tries to create an imbalance to knock off the foreign object. But he is stopped by another as the rest witness the action, baffled. When one begins to dance to the music playing from within the box, another applies pressure on the platform to bring the box towards him. This causes the performer to sit on the box to prevent falling, while the rest move hurriedly in a state of panic and confusion. The guy on top of the box doesn’t push the first guy intentionally and we can make this out by the look on his face. The second person too is kicked accidentally, but when the man had an option to save his last mate, he decided not to.
Now understand this situation using this context: the man on the box or the throne inevitably acquires power. The first few times people close to him suffer unintentionally by him or the power he has (the weight of the box) and he can be exonerated for those crimes. But when the person realizes that the box is the source of dominance, he cuts off any others’ reach by killing them intentionally and deviously. No one is left to question him, and he seems to be satisfied in the ending. But he doesn’t realize how lonely his position at the top is and how far he is from ‘power’ in metaphorical terms (he doesn’t get the fruits of power).
Everyone should see Balance at least once for the various messages it sends across. But make sure about the kind of film you are in the mood for: this isn’t your Pixar, happy, all’s-well-that-ends-well treat.
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