Directed by Bill Mason
France 1966


Based on Holling C. Holling s beloved Caldecott-awarded children s book, William Mason s stunning film follows the adventures of a tiny, wood-carved canoe as it forges its own path from Lake Superior through the Great Lakes and down to the Atlantic Ocean. Buoyed by beautiful photography and a sense of true wonder about the sun, Earth, and water, the Academy Award nominated Paddle to the Sea is an unforgettable tribute to the forces of the natural world, as well as a thrilling journey across the waves and rapids of North America. 

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Theatrical Release: February 1st, 1966

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DVD Review: Janus Films / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Janus Films / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 28:16 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.59 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital mono) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Janus Films / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer (1:24)

• 8-page liner notes

DVD Release Date: April 29th, 200
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 11



NOTE: This Criterion transfer is again pictureboxed (see our description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). Criterion have included a thick black border around the edge of the frame to counter overscan on production-made television sets.

I believe I first saw this in the Boy Scouts (possibly as a 'cub' scout) prior to a camping weekend. We huddled into the church gymnasium on a Friday night. The Scout Master's wife had set up a projector - showing it on the bare wall at the back. It certainly typified the experiences I shared in that organization with outdoorsy adventure, crafting and getting in-touch with nature. Viewing it again made me reflect back on those times with great affection.

Advertised as 'released by Janus Films, in association with the Criterion Collection' this single-layered, progressive DVD looks fairly weak as representational of the limited source material. It's a bit faded and dirt but the film's charm still shines through. The 1:33 ratio film has some expected noise (being single-layered). There appears to be very little, if any, digital restoration or improvements. This short Canadian film runs 28 minutes and there are optional English subtitles to support the mono audio which is entirely narration. 

Released simultaneously on April 29th (along with Paddle to the Sea) are The Red Balloon (Albert Lamorisse, 1956) and White Mane (Albert Lamorisse, 1953) also coming from Janus although in their blog Peter Becker states that they will 'SE' the two Albert Lamorisse titles, but not this one.

There is a trailer and some liner notes with an essay by Michael Koresky. I don't have enough stuff like this one DVD (reminded me somewhat of Fantoma's wonderful Education Archives - in a lunchbox - that I own but have never got around to reviewing). Simple children's cinema of a unique and under-explored niche. I recommend Paddle to the Sea.     

Gary W. Tooze


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Distribution Janus Films / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC


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