The Sand Castle (1961)

Article 3400 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-24-2010
Posting Date: 12-5-2010
Directed by Jerome Hill
Featuring Barry Cardwell, Laurie Cardwell, George Dunham
Country: USA
What it is: Unusual children’s movie

A young boy and his sister are left on the beach by their working mother for the day. The boy passes the time by building an elaborate sand castle.

The first two-thirds of this movie is almost a plotless children’s art film of sort; as the boy builds his sand castle we encounter several of the other beach visitors. They make for an odd assortment; just to pick a few right off the top, there’s an elderly woman in a veil who can’t stand the sun, an artist who paints the boy at work, a skin-diver who is mistaken for a monster by a little girl, and a group of nuns playing baseball (a sight so unusual that it actually draws away the crowd that has gathered around the making of the sand castle). There’s a touch of humor and a bit of surrealism to this sequence. The last third of the movie switches from black-and-white to color and from real life to paper-figure animation, as the boy falls asleep and dreams he is a knight in the castle who encounters all of the people he met on the beach as paper caricatures of themselves. On a certain level, this is rather engaging and fascinating; though there’s no real plot, you end up wondering where it will all go. On the downside, it’s more than a little dull on occasion, probably due to the fact that there IS no plot and that the dreamlike atmosphere goes a ways towards lulling you into sleep; I found myself nearly nodding off at times. Still, part of me finds this as almost a natural reaction to this unique, slightly melancholic and bittersweet movie. If anything, it reminds me that children’s movies can sometimes take you on cinematic journeys to places other types of films would never venture to go. It’s worth catching if you can find it.

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