The Vitality of Acceptance

Acceptance plays a big role in The Film Black Balloon


The film The Black Balloon is based on a regular Australian family. Within the Mollison family there is Simon, Maggie, Charlie, and Thomas. Simon, the father works for the Australian army who has traded in the virility of his youth for a accountable, domestic lifestyle.Maggie, Simon’s wife and mother of Charlie and Thomas, is busy raising her children but is also heavily pregnant with her third child. Charlie, who is roughly 18, was born autistic and lost the ability to communicate at an early age. He needs constant supervision and devotes most of his fooling around with his monkey hat and enjoys playing his Super Nintendo. Thomas the youngest Mollison, not only does he find life difficult at home but is consistently harassed at school during his swimming lessons by the other boys because of Charlie's “different” behavior.


The Mollison’s family life is necessarily focused upon by Charlie’s care and needs. Mother of the Mollison clan, Maggie believes that Charlie has been given to her because she is strong enough to care for him. While Simon purely feels that you must take care of your own child, regardless of how different they appear. The outcome of acceptance towards Charlie is rational and creates a family that is emotionally unstable but yet dedicated rationally. Soon another sibling is about to be added to the family and as Maggie’s pregnancy requires much bed-rest and hospitalization, leaving Thomas and his father to care for Charlie alone. The complications that this presents force Thomas to express his frustration and the way he truthfully feels towards Charlie and eventually, with Jackie’s support, finds true acceptance of his brother the way his parents perceive him.

Thomas & Charlie

The one wish that Thomas can ever ask for was, his older brother Charlie to be "normal" and he attempts to interact normally with him. At one point during the film, because he is different from his parent's perception he struggles to accept that Charlie will be incapable of speaking. Charlie must be accompanied with a carer for the rest of his life, which irritates Thomas whom believes his brother will become “normal” overnight. Towards the end of the film the Mollisons and Jackie attend Charlies school musical production, labelled 'Animals Afloat' in which Charlie imitates a monkey. During the production Charlie's companion, Russell has a breakdown on stage. Thomas then decides to put on the monkey costume to perform alongside Charlie and give an admirable performance. After the performance the brothers decide to celebrate their accomplishment by taking a bubble bath together. Thomas admits to his brother that when he was young, he used to fall asleep at night, desiring a normal Charlie. Charlie looks sympathetic. The film concludes with Thomas laughing and saying to Charlie 'You just pissed on my leg, didn't you?' . As an audience we can perceive the transformation in Thomas’s thoughts about Autism and has now accepted his brothers disability.

Jackie & Charlie

Jackie seeks interest in Thomas, because both of them attend the CPR class at school. Later in the film she visits The Mollisons home, in order to return the monkey ears Charlie had left unknowingly in Jackie’s toilet. Thomas' first reaction when he sees Jackie was to first assure that Charlie was nowhere to be seen. However, Maggie is not pleased with Thomas when she realises he has locked Charlie in his bedroom. Where they witness him rubbing his excrement on the carpet and his body. Maggie then yells at Thomas, putting the blame on him. He then becomes frustrated and tells Maggie that Charlie is not his responsibility. Later on during the film we observe Jackie telling Thomas that his desire of Charlie ever becoming ‘normal’ is unimaginable. Tensions then corrupt when Jackie is invited to celebrate Thomas' sixteen birthday. Charlie starts masturbating at the table over Jackie’s appearance. Jackie becomes enormously uncomfortable and Thomas becomes furious over his brothers behavior and decides to smash Charlie’s new, Nintendo console which causes a physical fight amongst the brothers. After the fight Thomas decides to go for a walk to clear his mind and finds him sitting in front of Jackie’s house. Jackie then comes out seeing a heartbroken Thomas and comforts him telling him that he has to accept Charlie, for he will never be a ‘normal’ individual.