The Red Balloon

Albert Lamorisse
Pascal Lamorisse, Sabine Lamorisse, Vladmir Popof
Albert Lamorisse
Music By: 
Maurice Le Roux
Production Company: 
Films Montsouris
Public Media Inc.
Length in minutes: 
MPAA Rating: 
Publication Date: 
List Price: 
Short Review: 
A classic of children's filmmaking, this is the whimsical fantasy of a young boy’s adventures with a big, shiny red balloon in, around, and over the streets of Paris. Filmed almost entirely without dialogue, this simple tale is filled with magic.
Long Review: 

This whimsical fantasy of a young boy’s adventures with a big, red shiny balloon in, around, and over the streets of Paris is a classic of children’s filmmaking. How many of us remember seeing this on Children’s Film Festival with Kukla, Fran and Ollie? Filmed almost entirely without dialogue, but with affecting music and the street sounds of Paris in the background, this simple tale has a magical quality – adding a splash of color to the gray, rain-soaked streets of Paris, the red balloon also adds a splash of joy to the boy’s life. Walking through the fog-enshrouded streets of Paris on his solitary way to school, a young boy finds a big, red shiny balloon caught on a light pole. He rescues it, and the balloon, which is almost as big as he is, soon becomes his friend and playmate. With an unquestioned magic, the balloon is alive – it follows the boy to school, waits for him, understands him when he speaks to it, and even plays hide and seek. In one of the most enchanting scenes, the boy convinces adult passersby on the rainy streets to allow the balloon under their umbrellas. But soon other boys become jealous and try to steal the balloon. The scenes with the mob of boys chasing the boy and the balloon, and then capturing it and destroying it are truly horrifying in their realistic portrayal of mob mentality. The “death scene” in which the balloon slowly loses air, shrinks, sinks to the ground and “dies” is heartbreaking. But, the magic is not gone – at that moment all the balloons of Paris take to the air (slipping out of children’s hands, floating out windows….) and fly together to where the little boy is sitting despondently. As he gathers the balloons together, they lift him up in a triumphant, majestic flight over the rooftops of Paris. Anyone who has seen this short masterpiece has never forgotten it – the images (the beauty of Paris, the perfection of the big shiny balloon) are imprinted in the minds of everyone I know who is over 30. In addition to being beloved by children, this short film has won many awards, including an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Lauren Mayer
Large image: