Monday, September 16, 2013

The Red Balloon

Originally Written and Posted at on 10/28/08 w/ Additional Edits.

Written and directed by Albert Lamorisse, Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon) tells the story of a young boy who goes into an adventure when he finds a red balloon that has a mind of its own. A film with very little dialogue, it's emphasis is on storytelling makes it one of the most enchanting short films ever made.

A young boy named Pascal (Pascal Lamorisse) is walking in the streets of Paris on his way to school when he finds a red balloon. Taking the red balloon on his way to school, he is enamored with it but couldn't bring it home or to the school. Yet, the balloon has a mind of its own. The boy and balloon go around the city as he's the envy of many children while the boy's teacher is annoyed at the balloon's presence as the balloon follows him during an errand. The boy and balloon continue to scour around Paris as the red balloon has an encounter with a blue balloon. Yet, jealousy ensues by a gang of bullies who hope to destroy the balloon. Yet, little Pascal would find a surprise of his own through balloons.

The film is essentially a simple tale about a boy and his balloon as they act like buddies on a journey. Albert Lamorisse brings a tale that is simple yet magical that crosses all barriers for its audience. From the short but heartfelt script that follows the balloon in its journey to the direction that is gorgeous. Lamorisse's direction is truly imaginative with its presentation where the balloon itself is a character that anyone can love. Something as simple as innocent as a balloon that can bring joy and imagination to a little boy in a world that looks very bleak and restrictive. Yet, the ending can be described as ambiguous in its sadness but is swept into something very hopeful in an amazing sequence. The final scene proves that nothing can take out something as pure and joyful than a simple object like a balloon.

Edmond Sechan's cinematography is exquisite for its sunny look of Paris and location shots where the red balloon represents life in contrast to the grayish look of the Parisian buildings and locations. The editing of Pierre Gillette is wonderfully energetic and rhythmic, notably in the film's chase sequence between the boy and bullies. The sound work of Pierre Vuillemin is excellent for capturing its location sounds, notably the scenes with the bullies. The film's big technical highlight is Maurice Leroux's score that flourishes with wonder and imagination. With a light orchestral arrangement filled with flutes and woodwinds, it plays up to the film's light-hearted tone and tension in its final moments before the ending.

The cast is mostly played by unknown actors with Lamorisse's two kids in memorable sequences as his daughter Sabine as the girl with the blue balloon. Yet, it's his son Pascal who plays the boy with the balloon with a lot of charm and heart as it's an amazing performance.

Le Ballon Rouge is a majestic short film from Albert Lamorisse. The film isn't just a great short that is accessible to all audiences but also a film that even brings something for children to watch. In the end, Le Ballon Rouge is a heartfelt film that reveals the joy to a child in a little object like a balloon.

© thevoid99 2013


Chris said...

Impressive how they got the balloon to have a life of its own and follow the boy around,I wonder how they did that. Agree Paris is depicted beautifully by the cinematography. As you say, simple yet magical.

"The Red Balloon" will be among my top 50 short films, a list I'm working on.

thevoid99 said...

I don't think there's any question that this is truly one of the great short films ever. It's a rare perfect film. 50 great short films. Shit, that's tough to do. I hope you have it on your Letterboxd.

Chris said...

Already there :) Need to write mini-reviews for each, and rank them:

thevoid99 said...

@Chris-OK, thank you.