The Red Balloon

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In 1956, French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse created The Red Balloon, a fantastical short film in which a boy (played by Lamorisse's son Pascal) discovers a sentient red balloon. The balloon follows the boy through his daily life, and (no spoilers!) other kids become jealous, eventually causing other balloons to get involved.

I saw this Technicolor film in school as a child, and it enthralled me, particularly the final shots -- which you'll recognize as a likely inspiration for scenes in the Pixar movie UP. The film is timeless because it relies so little on dialogue, evoking a gentle sense of wonder. It is also poignant towards the end. For me, this is the perfect way to relax for half an hour while avoiding election coverage.

You can watch The Red Balloon online; in the embed below I've skipped the opening credits, which happen to detail the piles of awards it received.

Trivia note: director Lamorisse had a good run in the mid-1950s; the year after releasing The Red Balloon he created the board game RISK. Not too shabby.

If you're a superfan, a restored version of the film is available from Criterion.

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November 6, 2012 - 8:37am
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