The Red Balloon

"Essential"

The Red Balloon Review


Do you remember the first time you saw The Red Balloon? If you're of a certain age, you were probably in your third grade classroom eagerly waiting for your teacher to roll in the projector on movie day. If you're on the younger side, though, there's a chance you've never seen this short, sweet masterpiece of French cinema. It's a shame if you didn't see it as a child, but it's not too late to catch up.

The only short film ever to win an Oscar for best original screenplay, Albert Lamorisse's little wonder tells the story of young Pascal (Lamorisse's own son Pascal), a nine-year-old Parisian boy living an ordinary life in a sketchy but absolutely gorgeous and cinematic Parisian neighborhood until the day that a large red balloon mysteriously floats into his life... and stays.

The magical balloon has puppy-like attributes. Whether Pascal holds the string or not, the balloon follows him faithfully on his daily circuit to and from school and shops and vacant lots. A streetcar conductor refuses to let the balloon board, so they race to school together, where the balloon waits outside the door until Pascal returns. When a mean teacher punishes Pascal, the balloon hilariously taunts the teacher in a bit of supernatural slapstick. The balloon even finds its own friend, a big blue balloon held by a little girl.

For an all-too-brief 50 minutes we enjoy the friendship of Pascal and the balloon until a pack of vicious, feral, jealous schoolboys decide to have some fun. Separating Pascal and the balloon, they basically stone the balloon to see if they can pop it. It would be a sin to give away the ending, but suffice it to say the movie suddenly elevates, so to speak, to the level of tear-jerking religious parable or, if you're an atheist, to a beautiful "all dogs go to heaven" moment.

The fact that Lamorisse can imbue a simple balloon with so much emotion and then make us emote all over it, is a masterful feat, and one that has rarely been duplicated in film. As the new Criterion DVD version is released, you can also head to the theater to see Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien's reinterpretation of the film called The Flight of the Red Balloon. It's not a remake, but rather a homage that tries to recapture some of that Parisian magic.

Do I give The Red Balloon five stars because I'm hopelessly nostalgic for third grade and the innocence of childhood? Maybe, but I also award the stars because the film is on the list of essentials, and if you missed it as a child, now is the time to make sure you seek it out and watch it. But here's the challenge: Try to watch with child-like eyes.

Aka Le Ballon rouge.

How high?



The Red Balloon

Facts and Figures

Run time: 34 mins

In Theaters: Monday 11th March 1957

Distributed by: Lopert Pictures Corporation

Production compaines: Films Montsouris

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 19 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Albert Lamorisse

Producer: Albert Lamorisse

Starring: Pascal Lamorisse as Pascal the Boy, Georges Sellier as Shopkeeper, Vladimir Popov as Un locataire

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.