Menu Close

Dragonflies the Baby Cries

Author John Cech
Air Date 8/17/2000

Dragonflies the Baby Cries Transcript

Brief sound cip 

That’s the Alloy Orchestra from Cambridge, Massachussetts, providing the soundtrack for a new movie, “Dragonflies the Baby Cries,” a short, around ten minute, nearly silent film by Jane Gilooly about children and their magical, secret lives that will be premiering this fall and touring with the Alloy at their performances. The Alloy Orchestra is world renowned for creating new, inventive music, often using homemade instruments, for such silent films like as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera.

Here, their percussive accompaniment sets just the right tones for this adventure of a baby, an older sister, and a group of other children who leave their respective homes and fenced yards to assemble in a forest where they create a potion including the dragonflies of the title of the film. Much to their surprise, the mixture ends up having its desired, magical effect — if only for an instant. In the world of young children, the film tells us through its exquisite black and white images, everything is animated, alive, responsive to wishes — every rock, every tree branch, every breath of wind.

Now, this isn’t Harry Potter. It’s more like Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are or his Outside Over There. It’s about the fantasy spaces that children inhabit when Mom goes inside the house to make a fresh pot of tea and leaves older sister with baby sister on the lawn and, in an instant, the kids fill the vacuum with a fantasy, a wild rumpus that is quite separate from the world of the adults. Ms. Gilooly’s version of these ancient rituals of childhood comes complete with hidden costumes and musical instruments, and with a group of radiant children who are both mischievous and good, blissfully unselfconscious, and, in the case of the girl who is the leader of the adventure, playfully aware of chances she is taking.

Douglas Newton has remarked that “The world-wide fraternity of children is the greatest of savage tribes, and the only one which shows no sign of dying out.” And thanks to Ms. Gilooly and this haunting, stunning film, the tribe and its secrets are safe and sound.

Brief sound clip 

Posted in Film, Music