The Red Balloon

  • Review Date: January 9, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1957
  • Running Time: 34 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Imaginative story told entirely through vivid visuals.
  • Review Date: January 9, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1957
  • Running Time: 34 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Families can talk about their interpretations of the film, especially regarding what the balloon might represent.

Positive messages

Although it's a beautiful story about the bond that develops between a young boy and a magical red balloon, there isn't much in the way of a directly positive message.

Positive role models

Pascal is a kind little boy who forms a bond with a magical red balloon.

Violence & scariness

Some tame bullying. A gang of older kids chases a boy around Paris, determined to steal and destroy his balloon.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
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. There is some tame bullying: A gang of older kids chases a boy around Paris, determined to steal and destroy his balloon.

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, and 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 chases the boy down, captures the balloon, and takes 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?

QUALITY
 

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, THE RED BALLOON is a tender and charming film 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 such as The Red Balloon is a rare and invigorating pleasure. Ask a dozen children who've seen this film what the balloon represents, and you might get a dozen answers. 

Families can talk about...

  • 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. What do your kids think that statement is about? Greed? Racism? Fear of the unknown? Enjoy the freedom of drawing your own conclusions.

  • How is color used throughout the movie? How is color used in other movies?

  • This is considered by many to be a "classic" short film. What aspects of this film do you think make it a classic?

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
Genre:Drama
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
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.

Find out more

Quality

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; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 5 year old Written byBob the Parent March 26, 2011
AGE
4
QUALITY
 

Perfect for any kid old enough to understand it.

I don't see why this is rated 7+??? Other than some older kids chasing him (doesn't that happen on every playground in the world at all ages??) there's nothing even remotely scary or anything else about this movie. Even a 2 or 3 year old would probably just like watching the balloon. A true classic.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written bymannymateo10isback December 26, 2010
AGE
2
QUALITY
 
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
Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written bySStarr May 23, 2014
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Gentle, sweet movie with devastating ending

If you have sensitive kids, this is not the movie for you. It is a gentle story about a boy and his balloon, beautifully photographed -- until the end when the balloon gets deliberately destroyed by bullies. Yes, a host of other balloons come, but the special balloon is gone forever. My five-year-old said afterwards, "Mom, you PROMISED that kids' movies have happy endings!" Yeah.... sorry, kid.

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