The Red Balloon

  • Review Date: January 9, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1957

Common Sense Media says

Imaginative story told entirely through visuals.
  • Review Date: January 9, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1957





What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence & scariness

A gang of older kids chases a boy and takes his balloon.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 11, 1957
DVD release date:March 27, 1996
Cast:Georges Sellier, Pascal Lamorisse, Paul Perey
Director:Albert Lamorisse
Studio:Warner Independent
Run time:34 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The Red Balloon was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written bymannymateo10isback December 26, 2010

this is the best short film! the kid is always having a good time with his balloon, and then the gang took the balloon away (that was a sad part), well i love watching this all i want, and i recommend that this is for all ages only

What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old Written byshop till i drop July 11, 2010


this short film is boring and pointless and slow!!!!!

Parent of a 3 year old Written bycaitlinvs February 21, 2011

Classic movie that's good for all ages

This is a beautiful movie with virtually no dialogue (the dialogue there is is in French; it has subtitles), about the relationship between a seemingly sentient balloon & a young boy. Our son began watching this movie before he was two & still loves it, as I did as a child. There are a few scary moments (other boys chasing the boy & his balloon, trying to pop it & then succeeding) but it's really one of the sweetest kids' movies ever made.


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