Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 311 - The Red Balloon

The Red Balloon (1956) directed by Albert Lamorisse

The Red Balloon is a short but sweet reminder of what it's like to be a kid again, filling our hearts and imaginations with pure childhood wonder. It is a 34 minute short about a boy who finds a red balloon that seems to have a mind of its own and their mini-odyssey through the streets of Paris drawing the attention of children and adults alike. With a simple score and virtually no dialogue, it is almost like a silent film and like any good silent film, it is all in the visual story telling and few films are as beautifully imagined as this.

I knew basically nothing about this film but was intrigued by its premise and was totally blown away by it. It's only 34 minutes long and sort of plotless but each minute is magical as you watch the boy interact with the balloon. I try to avoid using cliche superlatives but pick any that you want, magical, enchanting, charming, sweet, wonderful, imaginative, transcendant, and it describes The Red Balloon. It's kind of difficult to really explain the movie since it is so simple looking but I suppose the best way to describe it is in the feelings it invokes while watching it. Perhaps I'm being overly sentimental but it is a wonderful children's movie that can be appreciated by adults as well for its sweet innocence.

On a purely technical level, this film is a marvel as well. Exactly how they were able to make this balloon seem like a living thing with a mind of its own I'll never know and to be honest I don't want to know. Visually the bright red balloon provides such interesting pictures as it stands out so much in the sort of muted Paris landscape.

Sort of semi-spoiler but I'll just throw it out there, I wonder if elements of the Pixar movie Up was inspired by The Red Balloon, particularly its colorful and literally uplifting ending.

Grade: A

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