The Red Balloon – Pre-Pixar Movie Magic

You know you’re watching something special when mom, dad, an eight year old boy and a three year old girl are all equally immersed and captivated by a 34 minute French movie with English subtitles that’s over a half a century old. Granted there’s only about five lines of dialogue in the movie (and amazingly still won the 1957 Academy Award for Best Screenplay – which really does prove that “less is more” once and for all) so there’s very little reading that is required. The Red Balloon, an almost wordless motion picture, is a fantasy piece by director Albert Lamorisse – who cast his son in the starring role as the little Parisian boy who finds a red balloon on his way to school and begins a magical, intimate and ultimately trusting friendship with the bright red shiny orb. Red_balloon

The movie has almost a living story book feel, with amazingly composed shots of the Ménilmontant neighborhood of Paris which apparently was razed in the late 1960’s. So the movie actually also serves as a recorded preserve of the Belleville area of the city which was a unique neighborhood of steep staircases, narrow passageways and cobblestone streets.

Typically “Friday Night Movie Night” is a boy’s event since little sister is usually in bed by 8pm but tonight was our first family movie night, and thanks to grandma Mama Mela – who spent weeks hunting down the movie – which was only recently released on DVD, we all got to experience a wonderful, touching, beautiful movie.

And the real magic IMO….is that there wasn’t one single computer graphic, blue screen shot, motion capture, 3D animation or technical special effect used. Nor was there a celebrity voice-over, merchandising tie-in or super cool soundtrack with hit singles from Black Eyed Peas or Hannah Montana – just a sweeping string-based score, a great, simple, compelling story, a balloon, a very very thin piece of thread and the opportunity for any and all of us to be connected by pure imagination.

Click here to get it on Amazon: The Red Balloon