Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Red Balloon

The Red Balloon
1956 - 35 minutes
Albert Lamorisse

Available on Netflix insta-watch.

This 1956 French short by Albert Lamorisse takes us through the adventures of a red balloon in Paris. A young boy, Pascal, encounters the balloon and it soon becomes his best friend. The balloon appears to have a life of its own and follows Pascal as he goes through his daily routine. Although Pascal has a close relationship with the balloon, many others around him resent the balloon and want to separate the two. Pascal's mother won't let the balloon in the house and the school principal won't allow it in the classroom. Eventually, some local bullies destroy the balloon, killing Pascal's best friend. The short ends with a cluster of other balloons picking up Pascal and taking him on a ride across the city of Paris.

I think that the balloon serves as a life lesson for Pascal. It signifies Pascal's innocence and how he has to grow up and mature through his young adolescence. When the other boys destroy his balloon it serves as just another hurdle that Pascal must overcome. Lessons like this help Pascal to grow as a young boy into a man.


haley schattner said...

I love when Pascal follows/runs after people to get under their umbrellas with his red balloon. I think it is interesting that the objects that make a kid into an adult are childhood items, not adult items. In this example, it is a red balloon. Why is it that films use child items to make a transition? Is it because all adults are in fact, children at heart? Or is that also an assumption made by films?

Chris Tonn said...

I think that unexpected life events can force someone to mature at a much quicker rate -- and these events are one way by which directors can show the transition. But if not for a specific event, i.e. death in the family, then the transition is much more gradual.

The gradual transition typically involves a person clinging on to their childhood, and in a more literal sense hanging on to a childhood object such as a balloon.

A childhood object signifying childhood innocence and immaturity is very easy for a director to convey in a visual context, and that's why I think we see so many directors going this route. The whole transition of reliance on the childhood object, to losing that object, to maturing afterwards is easily adapted to the big screen.

Morgan said...

This film is such an innocent story that makes it so lovable. Everyone remembers that time in their childhood when they had an imaginary friend of some sort, in this case it's the balloon. The sadness you feel about the popping of the balloon takes us back to when we gave up or were forced to give up our own imaginary friend. Such a great short!