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Carroll Ballard

Carroll Ballard

Ballard's subsequent output has been disappointingly sparse. Six years elapsed before "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture" (1986), an ambitious film version of the Christmas 1983 Seattle production staged by Maurice Sendak and Kent Stowell. Ballard utilized Sendak's dreamy sets to bring out some of the psychosexual underpinnings of the ballet. Less successful was the sometimes frantic editing which some reviewers found too reminiscent of music videos. "Wind" (1992) was a ho-hum yacht racing yarn that boasted outstanding cinematography by John Toll. Ballard's affinity for the beauties and rigors of nature and weather were undiminished but the material and characters were unworthy. Doubtlessly making "Wind" called upon elements of the filmmaker's childhood spent at Lake Tahoe where his father was a boat builder. Ballard himself spent a year after high school building a catamaran. He next enlisted in the Army where he served as a cameraman while stationed in the American South. During that period, Ballard saw three films that revolutionized his notions about film: Teinosuke Kinugasa's "Gate of Hell" (1953-Japan), Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" (1957-US), and Carl Dreyer's "Ordet" (1955-Denmark). Inspired, he enrolled in the UCLA film school in the early 1960s. There Ballard began making acclaimed short narratives and documentaries that usually starred animals. He was nominated for a Oscar as the producer of the documentary, "Harvest" (1967).
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