A MOTHER'S TOUCH

-Is the first love a child feels.

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Mothers of the 21st century vs Maggie Mollison

The Black Balloon (directed by Elissa Down) is a movie about a family and their fight to be normal when one of them is abnormal. The Mollison family is a family of four with two teenage sons: Thomas who is a young man fighting reality and Charlie, a boy who suffers from sever autism and is the cause of Charlie's fight. The person who manages to hold it together and face reality is their mother, Maggie Mollison, who is the rock of the family and not only Charlie's mother but his friend. Maggie shows us what it truly means to be a mother, something that mother's of the 21st century may not be able to comprehend under the circumstance.

Maggie Mollison

The character Maggie (played by Toni Colette who was also executive producer of the film) is portrayed to be a woman of great will power and emotional strength. She accepts the challenges in life instead of breaking down and running away. In the film Maggie is a mother more than anything else, with a severely autistic teenage son (Charlie), another teenage son (Thomas) and a baby girl that is introduced near the end of the film. The film shows us that Maggie was hit with many difficulties in her life as a mother but her ‘get up after a fall’ attitude is what pulls she and her family through “…Your mother thinks we got Charlie because we’re capable … strong enough to deal with it.”- Simon.

Maggie as an individual, that is, not playing the role of a mother/wife is something that the audience doesn't really get to witness. In every scene that she is a part of her actions revolve around her family, especially Charlie. Maggie as an individual is quite family oriented and her individuality may in fact be shaped by her family and their situation. She probably felt the intense longing that Charlie could be normal at a stage, just as Thomas feels. The film indicates Maggie's reluctant yet compliant acceptance of Charlie: "You have to stop wishing Charlie was normal...He’s never going to change...He will live with us for the rest of his life." Maggie stating this is almost an affirmation to herself looking at the reality of it all.



Maggie the wife

Maggie’s husband in the film is Simon Mollison (played by Erik Thomson). Although he protects Charlie and cares deeply for him, he doesn’t have the same attachment that Maggie has and is less tolerable of Charlie’s autism. Maggie’s role as a wife is not displayed that much in the film, but the relationship that she and Simon share is shown to be reliable and dependable. It’s obvious in the film that Maggie is the person Charlie is most emotionally attached to, so when she has to spend time on the hospital bed Simon and Thomas face the challenge of filling Maggie’s space. Charlie's demanding requirements as an autistic teenager challenges all the relationships of the people closest to him including Simon and Maggie. Because the family has so far been dependent on Maggie's bond with Charlie, when situations occur where Maggie's not in the picture things emotions of mistrust and uncertainty arise "...well whose's going to take care of the house and boys?...for Christ's sake Maggie I'm not that useless!"


Maggie and Simon's relationship is also an example of how relationships in the 90's were more stable. In present times something like having an autistic child could mean the end of a relationship. Sometimes people in the 21st century loose that attitude of sticking together what ever the situation and being of moral support. Although Maggie is the one that cares for Charlie the film also indicates Simon's acceptance of his son "all i know is he's my own. Your weak as piss if you can't take care of your own."


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Maggie as a Mother and the Mother's of Today

Maggie as a mother is the main side of her character that the audience witnesses. Maggie is not be taken as the average mother with one of her sons- Charlie, who is in his teens, being severely autistic. You would think that with one other teenage son and a husband, the family would be able to cope quite well, but Maggie is pretty much the pillar of support and rock of her family. Maggie has a strong bond with her sons, especially Charlie, and in the film she seems to be the one who protects and understand him the most. Obviously due to Charlie’s mental disabilities, he would receive more attention that his brother, but Maggie cares as deeply for Thomas as she does for Charlie “it’s not fair is it mate?” Maggie asks the rhetorical question when she finds Thomas crying in the bathroom after a violently eventful day with Charlie that tested their relationship as brothers.


Thomas in the film is portrayed as a young man that can't seem to face the reality of his family's situation and doesn't want to take responsibility for it either. His reluctance to have anything to do with Charlie is one of the main causes of conflict in the film "he's not my responsibility...i don't want anything to do with him he's a freak!" - in this scene, as soon as Thomas states this he get slapped across the face by Maggie almost by reflex. Though Thomas' emotions towards Charlie are not understanding and mainly the longing for him to normal again in the end it's Maggie's attitude that brings the family together. Mother's of today are sometimes less tolerable if their children were to be autistic. The women of today actually stray more and more away from the idea of constricting their lives by getting married and bearing children. If a woman now were to have a child that's autistic they might leave the responsibility to someone else and want nothing to do with it. Woman over the years have become more reluctant to live up to the stereotypical expectations of a being mother/wife and would rather live independently


Even by Simon Day - The Black Balloon Soundtrack

Reflection

The Black Balloon was a Movie that showed viewers what families experience and the trial and tribulations they face when dealing with something like Charlie's case. For this brochure i chose this particular background because in a scene of the film it showed Charlie in the car mesmerised by the street lights. In this scene Thomas also questions his dad about how he feels about Charlie and if her wishes for him to be normal still. I chose the pictures displayed on the brochure because they signified the bond that Maggie shares with her family and how she is understanding of bother her sons. The picture located at the top of the page is one of the few shots of Maggie by herself. The song that's embedded is 'Even' by Simon Day which was part of the movie's soundtrack. The lyrics of the song somewhat describe the relationship that Maggie shares with her son:

- Your beautiful but you smell

- You're brilliant but your people dumb

- You're superstar, your dysfunctional

There's also an interview embedded of Toni Collette who played Maggie. I decided to include this because it shows what her take was on playing Maggie and how she felt about becoming her. People of the 21st century may be more accepting of people with mental disabilities, but when their hit with a situation like Maggie and Simon's (as well as Thomas) the option to run away and forget doesn't seem that difficult a decision to make. Maggie shows us that dealing with the situation is not always difficult if you can bring together the support of your family and open their eyes to reality.