The Red Ballon Review

Image of a young boy looking up at a red balloon

The Red Ballon is a film classic where a young boy is followed around the streets of Paris by, a magical red ballon! Originally titled Le Ballon Rouge, which of course is the French title, The Red Balloon was released in 1956, while even though it is a mere thirty four minutes long has seen unimaginable success and won critical acclaim throughout the world.

The Story

Set in Paris,a young boy played by Pascal Lamorisse comes across a red balloon that for him has a strange attraction. The boy befriends the balloon and so the story unfolds as the balloon follows the boy wherever he goes. The boy plays happily in the streets of Paris, with the balloon taking centre stage as his friend.

The balloon follows the boy to school, to church in fact anywhere and everywhere he goes. It is an unlikely friendship, while it is strange but the viewer does not feel that it is wierd that a boy should grow such an attachment to an inanimate object such as a balloon. The boy's mother does not like the balloon therefore will not allow the boy to bring it inside the house so the balloon simply hovers outside the boys bedroom window in wait. In another scene the balloon enters school which results in the boy being scolded by the head master.

At one point a group of boys try to catch the balloon but do not succeed and we could actually feel ourselves willing these evil bullies to fail. Who would believe we could care so much for a red balloon? The boy also meets a girl who has a blue balloon that seems to also have magic powers, while ultimately the gang of boys succeed in grabbing the balloon and destroying it. The final scene does however cheer the viewer as following the red balloons demise all the other colourful balloons in Paris rain down on the little boy, picking him up to soar over the rooftops of the city.

Directed by Albert Lamorisse who is the father of the actor who plays the little boy, the film was awarded an Oscar for best screenplay and won the Palm D'or even though there are very few words spoken throughout the film making this a unique achievement in every sense.

Our Verdict

We stated in our intro that The Red Balloon is a classic film and it certainly is. It's enchantment takes over both adults and children alike from the very start of the film, while the musical score is superb throughout. The story seems so relatively simple but therein lies the attraction. There are no out of this world visual effects no over the top dialogue and yet the film reaches into the heart and mind of the viewer making us will the balloon to succeed in it's journey. The Red Balloon is a visual story that is captivating while simple and will remain a firm favourite we are sure for decades to come.