The Red Balloon
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this enchanting short film about a red balloon that befriends a little French boy is more than a joy to watch; it's a provocative exercise in creative interpretation that deserves a place of honor on any Classics shelf. Younger kids will enjoy it purely on a surface level, as an engaging story about a boy and his balloon. Older kids will be able to read more into it and offer some mind-blowing insights.
What's the story?
This allegorical story of a boy and his red balloon has only a few background words of dialogue. The parable unfolds in carefully plotted images and beguiling actions that give the balloon more personality than some "A List" actors. The balloon ducks into alleys, rises suddenly to escape grabbing hands, pauses in front of a mirror to admire itself. It's as alive as the boy is. Here's the story: A young boy (Pascal Lamorisse) untangles a bright red balloon from a lamppost and tries to give it away, but the balloon returns to him. It hovers outside his window. It follows him to school where, dodging playfully out of reach, it escapes the groping hands of the other children and gets the boy in trouble. A gang of older boys chase the boy down, capture the balloon, and take it to an abandoned place where they torment it with rocks and slingshots. While the boy tries to rescue it, the balloon grows weary looking, settles to the ground, and is stomped on, signaling a peculiar call to arms.
Is it any good?
Winner of an Academy Award in 1956 for Best Original Screenplay, as well as the Cannes Film Festival's Grand Prize and, most impressively, the 1968 Best Film of the Decade Educational Film Award, this is a tender, charming, and important film that all ages can benefit from seeing and talking about.
In a world where far too much is overemphasized or explained nearly to death, a film like THE RED BALLOON is a rare and invigorating pleasure. Ask a dozen children who have seen this film what the balloon represents and you might get a dozen different answers. As with White Mane (1952), writer/director Albert Lamorisse's earlier short film, a statement is being made about the darker side of human nature. Through the balloon, that statement can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Greed? Racism? Fear of the unknown? Enjoy the freedom of drawing your own conclusions.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about their interpretations of the film, especially what the balloon might represent.