The Red Balloon
|The Red Balloon|
|Directed by||Albert Lamorisse|
|Produced by||Albert Lamorisse|
|Written by||Albert Lamorisse|
|Music by||Maurice Leroux|
|Editing by||Pierre Gillette|
|Distributed by||Lopert Pictures Corporation
|Running time||35 minutes|
It won numerous awards, including an Oscar for Lamorisse for writing the best original screenplay in 1956 and the Palme d'Or for short films at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. The film also became popular with children and educators.
Lamorisse used his children as actors in the film. His son, Pascal Lamorisse, plays Pascal in the main role, and his daughter Sabine portrays a little girl.
The film, which has a music score but almost no dialogue, tells of Pascal (Pascal Lamorisse), who, on his way to school one morning, discovers a large helium-filled red balloon.
As Pascal plays with his newfound toy, he realizes the balloon has a mind and will of its own. It begins to follow him wherever he goes, at times floating outside his bedroom window as Pascal's mother will not allow it in their apartment.
The red balloon follows Pascal through the streets of Paris, and the pair draw inquisitive looks from adults and the envy of other children as they wander the streets. At one point the balloon enters Pascal's classroom, causing an uproar from the other pupils. The noise alerts the principal, who becomes angry with Pascal and locks him up in his office until school is over. At another, Pascal and his balloon encounter a little girl (Sabine Lamorisse) with a blue balloon that also seems to have a mind of its own.
In their wanderings around the neighborhood, Pascal and the balloon encounter a gang of bullies, who are envious of his balloon, and they soon destroy his new friend.
The film ends as the other balloons in Paris come to Pascal's aid and take him on a cluster balloon ride over the city.
- Pascal Lamorisse as Pascal
- Georges Sellier
- Vladimir Popov
- Paul Perey
- René Marion
- Sabine Lamorisse as the Little Girl
- Michel Pezin
The film serves as a color record of the Belleville area of Paris which had fallen into decay by the 1960s, prompting the Parisian government to demolish the area as a slum-clearance effort.[unreliable source] Part of the site was built up with housing projects; the remainder was left as wasteland for 20 years. Some of what is seen in the film exists no more: one of the bakeries, the famous Y-shaped staircase situated just beyond the equally famous café "Au Repos de la Montagne", the long-gone steep steps of the passage Julien Lacroix where Pascal finds the balloon initially etc., the waste ground where all the battles took place.
Critical reception 
Since its first release in 1956, the film has generally received overwhelmingly favorable reviews from film critics. Film critic for the New York Times, Bosley Crowther, hailed the simple tale and praised director Lamorisse, writing that "Yet with the sensitive cooperation of his own beguiling son and with the gray-blue atmosphere of an old Paris quarter as the background for the shiny balloon, he has got here a tender, humorous drama of the ingenuousness of a child and, indeed, a poignant symbolization of dreams and the cruelty of those who puncture them."
When The Red Balloon was re-released in the United States in late 2006 by Janus Films, Entertainment Weekly magazine film critic Owen Gleiberman, praised the film's direction and simple story line that reminded him of his youth, and wrote, "More than any other children's film, The Red Balloon turns me into a kid again whenever I see it...[to] see The Red Balloon is to laugh, and cry, at the impossible joy of being a child again."
Film critic Brian Gibson wrote, "So far, this seems a post-Occupation France happy to forget the blood and death of Hitler's war a decade earlier. But soon people’s occasional, playful efforts to grab the floating, carefree balloon become grasping and destructive. In a gorgeous sequence, light streaming down alleys as children's shoes clack and clatter on the cobblestones, the red globe bouncing between the walls, Pascal is hunted down for his floating pet. The film's ballooning sense of hope and freedom is deflated by a fierce, squabbling mass. Then, fortunately, Lamorisse's film floats off, with the breeze of magic-realism, into a feeling of escape and peace, The Red Balloon taking hold of Pascal, lifting him out of this rigid, petty, earthbound life."
In a review in The Washington Post, critic Philip Kennicott had a cynical view of the film, and wrote, "[The film takes] place in a world of lies. Innocent lies? Not necessarily. The Red Balloon may be the most seamless fusion of capitalism and Christianity ever put on film. A young boy invests in a red balloon the love of which places him on the outside of society. The balloon is hunted down and killed on a barren hilltop–-think Calvary–-by a mob of cruel boys. The ending, a bizarre emotional sucker punch, is straight out of the New Testament. Thus is investment rewarded–with Christian transcendence or, at least, an old-fashioned Assumption. This might be sweet. Or it might be a very cynical reduction of the primary impulse to religious faith." The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 100% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on fifteen reviews."
The film premiered and opened wide in France on October 15, 1956, was released in the United Kingdom on December 23, 1956 (as the supporting film to the 1956 Royal Performance Film The Battle of the River Plate...which ensured it a wide distribution) and was released in the United States on March 11, 1957.
The film has been featured in many film festivals over the years, including: the Wisconsin International Children's Film Festival; the Los Angeles Outfest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival; the Wisconsin Film Festival, and others.
Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s this film was popular in elementary classrooms throughout the United States and Canada. A four minute clip of the film is on the rotating list of programming on Classic Arts Showcase.
In late 2007, the film, along with director Albert Lamorisse's earlier classic short White Mane (1953), was restored and re-released by Janus Films in limited markets in the United States. The film was remastered by Janus Films in 35mm format for the release.
Video and DVD 
The film was first released on VHS by Embassy Home Entertainment in 1984. A laserdisc of the film was later released by The Criterion Collection in 1986, and was produced by Criterion, Janus Films, and Voyager Press. Included in the disc was Lamorisse's award-winning short White Mane (1953). A DVD version became available in 2008, and a Blu-Ray version was released in the United Kingdom on January 18, 2010; it has now been confirmed as region-free.
Related releases 
A tie-in book was published, using stills from the film. A soundtrack, featuring music adapted from the film by Lamorisse, was released on the Nonesuch Records label.
It was adapted for the stage by Anthony Clark, and was performed at the Royal National Theatre in 1996. The Red Balloon has inspired Flight of the Red Balloon, a 2008 French feature film, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien and starring Juliette Binoche.
- Prix Louis Delluc: Prix Louis Delluc; Albert Lamorisse; 1956.
- Cannes Film Festival: Palme d'Or du court métrage/Golden Palm; Best Short Film, Albert Lamorisse; 1956.
- Academy Awards: Oscar; Best Writing, Best Original Screenplay, Albert Lamorisse; 1957.
- British Academy of Film and Television Arts: BAFTA Award; Special Award, France; 1957.
- National Board of Review: Top Foreign Films; 1957.
- Best Film of the Decade Educational Film Award.
- The Red Balloon at the Internet Movie Database
- "Belleville, Paris: Information from". Answers.com. 2004-02-17. Retrieved 2011-06-21.
- Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times film review. March 12, 1957. Last accessed: December 1, 2007.
- Gleiberman, Owen. Entertainment Weekly, "Hope Floats," film review, November 30, 2007.
- Gibson, Brian. Vue Weekly, December 12, 2007. Last accessed: February 26, 2008.
- Kennicott, Philip. The Washington Post, "Red Balloon and White Mane: Childhood Colored by Adult Cynicism," film review, November 23, 2007; Page C01. Last accessed: December 2, 2007.
- The Red Balloon at Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed: February 26, 2008.
- The Red Balloon at AllRovi
- The Red Balloon at Janus Films; web site includes trailer of film for viewing. Last accessed December 3, 2007
- Dr. Svet Atanasov. "The Red Balloon / The White Mane Blu-ray Review". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2011-06-21.
- The Red Balloon, Anthony Clark. London: Oberon Books ,2000, ISBN 978-1-84002-079-3
- The Red Balloon, IMDb, ibid.
- "Awards 1956". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
- The Red Balloon, IMDb, ibid.
- BAFTA. The winners and nominees lists from 1950 to 1959, at the official web site of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
- National Board of Review. Awards for 1957, NBR web site. Last accessed: December 2, 2007.
- Note is written on an English credited copy of the film. No reliable web source for this information.