All the Marbles


 

By Omeleto

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Jamison is a young boy living in a world where marbles are as precious as gold. He manages to win the most treasured, precious marble of them all, but it’s stolen away by a villainous bully named Wolf.

But Jamison is determined to win back his marble, confronting Wolf on his own turf. He goes into the match of marbles aiming to get back his prize, but he comes out with something much more than he anticipated.

This magical fantasy short film — directed by Michael Swingler and co-written by Swingler and co-lead actor Carl Petersen — is a richly imagined children’s tale blending a Victoriana, almost steampunk sensibility with the emotional fears and concerns of young children that will nevertheless resonate with all ages.

There’s a heightened feel to all the elements of craft, with the visuals and sound blending a Tim Burtonesque theatricality with attention to dusty, antique detail and a terrifically emotional score. This beautifully realized world is captured in burnished cinematography that adds to the “out of time” quality of the story.

The performances, too, have a theatrical quality fitting the nature of the material, though the film knows when to slow down enough to allow viewers to see decisions being made and feelings being processed. And as the villain, Petersen clearly relishes playing the role of a bad guy who relishes in his villainy, and there’s a pleasingly arch touch of Malcolm McDowell to his performance.

The fantastical fable-like quality of the film could run away with itself, but happily, it exists on a foundation of solid writing and storytelling, which never lets it get too flooded with flights of fancy for comprehension.

The narrative has the challenge of building a world and solidifying a good amount of background information (as well as delivering a good amount of dialogue in rhyme.) But despite the many elements it’s balancing, it pays assiduous care to pacing and character, never overwhelming the young viewers the film is aimed towards. And by the time Jamison plays his final marble, it all comes together in a highly satisfying ending that makes all the craft and care invested into this short gem worth it.

Oscar-longlisted as a winner at the Dances With Films festival, “All the Marbles” offers viewers a journey into a wonderful, imaginative world so immersive that it’s hard to believe the film is only 17 minutes long. Like many children’s films, the ending is triumphant. But like the wisest of children’s stories, it offers a smart, wise lesson in emotions and how to see the world.

Jamison learns that confronting your bully — or your fears — isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about questioning the nature of the game itself, the rules and very mentality of a bully trying to control and manipulate others with fear into a particular dynamic. By upending the dynamic, Jamison changes the stakes of the game for himself, refusing to play the role that the bully wants him to fall into — and instead of being the person he wants and chooses to be.

 

Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:06
[Music]
00:09
in a far-off place is a wonderful world
00:13
of old where marvels are treasured as if
00:17
precious gold and once every year all
00:22
daughters and sons compete in a great
00:25
circle until left for new life that one
00:30
was James and despite his smaller size
00:32
played his heart out one that diamond
00:36
prize
00:37
[Music]
00:39
but a bitter bully me more from the
00:42
shadows appeared snatched everyone
00:44
smalls and was rightfully feared and
00:47
with the police face must by his side
00:49
snatched the diamond trophy along with
00:54
Jameson’s pride his father said not to
00:58
worry over the marbles one collects bad
01:01
things may come to those who obsess over
01:04
such effects
01:05
[Music]
01:06
[Applause]
01:11
so our story begins with the search for
01:14
what was lost
01:17
Juanita faced his fears alone
01:22
no matter the cost
01:25
[Music]
01:32
[Music]
02:07
hello little one
02:09
did someone lose their way this isn’t
02:12
really a place for little boys to play
02:17
what’s he doing here what so you think
02:24
you better run homeboy they’ll be
02:27
leaving here weeping I’m not going
02:29
anywhere till wolf starts talking enough
02:31
chitchat
02:33
get your little legs walking
02:41
[Music]
02:51
[Applause]
03:05
whoa we have a guest that showed up
03:10
untied what Porter
03:12
don’t disturb do you misunderstand never
03:16
be able to finish my latest design you
03:18
keep interrupting me you slither nice
03:21
one
03:21
mr. wolf please don’t fret the boys come
03:24
back to place a permanent bed
03:33
Jamison I won’t be going back Oh Jamison
03:45
always a silly-willy I know what you
03:50
came here for could it be this little
03:53
pretty oh so sorry turning this diamond
03:59
would be my pleasure
04:01
but I must admit we’ve all gone quite
04:04
far into this little treasure then if
04:10
you won’t give it back a challenge huge
04:12
for game that is unless you’re afraid
04:14
I’ll put you to shame
04:20
[Music]
04:22
really boy hey how dare you stuck Mike
04:24
by I’ll burn you alive
04:31
besides you have nothing left I desire
04:34
so the office you I got tired of him yep
04:37
wibbels and wobbles well if I bet them
04:41
oh no all the marbles
04:51
why not I’ll give you a sporting shocked
04:55
just follow my signal who lives a whole
04:58
lot
05:15
have your attention I’ve got a few
05:18
things I’d like to mention there will be
05:21
three rounds in this brawl and there’s
05:25
always more winner Hey
05:47
Jamison I’m afraid you’re going to lose
05:50
this fight because my Tiger Marvel packs
05:54
one heck of a bite
06:07
[Music]
06:21
[Applause]
06:34
[Applause]
06:45
[Applause]
06:52
[Music]
07:11
[Applause]
07:15
[Music]
07:25
[Applause]
07:30
some people don’t know when they’re done
07:34
whoa for the head the winner of round
07:37
one
07:39
[Applause]
07:43
[Music]
07:49
[Applause]
08:01
[Music]
08:36
[Music]
08:50
I’m joking the theme is the winner
08:53
won’t you be happy well just do what I
08:56
tell you
09:01
[Music]
09:03
foxy don’t forget where your loyalty
09:05
lies of course that I just assumed on
09:09
your own
09:10
you’d win the prize
09:12
[Music]
09:24
[Applause]
09:32
[Music]
09:46
[Music]
09:50
[Applause]
10:17
[Music]
10:22
[Applause]
10:24
[Music]
10:27
[Applause]
10:36
[Applause]
10:40
[Music]
10:41
[Applause]
10:42
[Music]
10:45
oh dear how unfortunate
10:57
how terribly sad the diamonds crap now
11:05
my bad
11:07
guess there’s no point in finishing the
11:09
game looks like it’s time for you to go
11:12
back from where you came
11:21
[Music]
11:33
leaving so soon such a shame you might
11:42
actually beat him playing this silly
11:45
game look I’m so sorry a marble took
11:49
such a fall but is that what you came
11:52
for
11:53
really was that all
12:07
[Music]
12:17
[Applause]
12:19
[Music]
12:21
but you’re surely mistaken I don’t need
12:24
the trophy or the marbles you take it
12:26
I’m sick and tired of you pushing people
12:29
around
12:29
so let’s get back to this game because
12:32
tonight you’re going down James always
12:42
Paco squawking no play I’m a game to it
12:46
and I haven’t got all day
12:58
just go already so I can make the
13:01
winning shot what are you waiting for
13:03
tick tick tock
13:11
[Music]
13:35
[Applause]
13:43
[Applause]
13:59
[Applause]
13:59
[Music]
14:14
[Applause]
14:31
[Music]
14:57
[Music]
15:18
[Applause]
15:19
[Music]
15:22
Jameson always a silly
15:27
[Music]
15:41
Jamison held his head high woof spell
15:44
had been broke his journey led to
15:46
something much more than any trophy or
15:48
talking his fears were much greater than
15:51
one might see but his courage was clear
15:54
and said everyone free his father was
15:58
right his words from the start they are
16:02
more important things to fight for and
16:04
they often come from the heart
16:07
[Music]
16:09
[Applause]
16:15
[Music]
16:36
[Music]
16:40
[Applause]
16:42
[Music]
16:48
[Applause]
17:02
[Applause]
17:04
[Music]
17:24
you

This post was previously published on YouTube and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Photo credit: Screenshot from video

The post All the Marbles appeared first on The Good Men Project.