You’ll love this classic film from filmmaker Albert Lamorisse – his 1956 short film, The Red Balloon. It’s a delight for adults and children alike. The story is set in Paris and centres around a little boy – played by the director’s son Pascal – who, when walking to school one morning discovers a red balloon tangled around a lamp post. He ‘rescues’ it and takes it to school with him. It soon becomes apparent that the red balloon has a mind of its own and so begins a relationship between the boy and his balloon.
The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and a Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival along with near-universal praise from critics. In a 2008 essay, ‘The Red Balloon: Written on the Wind’, the children’s author Brian Selznick – he of ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ fame – had this to say about the film:
As a child, I longed for two specific things that I now realize Lamorisse’s movie embodies: the presence of a loving friend and the knowledge that real magic exists in the world. Childhood, in so many ways, is about learning to navigate the world around us, to make sense of what seems overwhelming and gigantic. Having a special companion makes that experience more manageable and less terrifying. To kids, the world of grown-ups is often alien and untranslatable, and so magic becomes a lens through which the incomprehensible universe (as Einstein once called it) becomes comprehensible.
An adult watching The Red Balloon will not find it difficult to see the title character as a symbol of spirituality, friendship, love, transcendence, the triumph of good over evil, or any of the countless other things that a simple, round red balloon can represent, but perhaps we’re better off enjoying some things the way a child understands them: not as metaphors but as stories. In the end, I think there’s something nice about allowing the balloon to just be. I guess that’s what you do with good friends–you let them be themselves.
Make your own choice, either way its a wonderful film , sweet and so well made. And on an aside Lamorisse also invented the board game RISK.
Via Open Culture
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