The Red Balloon (1956) ****
Directed by: Albert Lamorisse.
Written by: Albert Lamorisse.
This is French film, but language should not be a barrier to anyone watching it. There is very little dialogue in the film at all – and what little there is, is fairly meaningless. You don’t need dialogue in this film. It is a film that children can watch and enjoy – but I think adults will enjoy more. Children don’t realize how good they have it when their children – they have to wait until they’re adults to figure that out.
The film is a masterwork of both cinematography and editing. Lamorisse’s camera tracks the balloon through the streets of Paris – shot in a dull, gray palate, except for the bright red balloon – as the balloon goes all over. The tracking shots are masterfully controlled and glide effortlessly. The editing picks up when the bullies get their hands on the balloon – and then the balloon escapes, and goes on the run with the boy, as the boys close in on all sides.
I find I have very little to say about this movie that I adored so much. It really is a very simple film – and yet I often find that sometimes the best films, the ones that move us the most emotionally, are the ones that are the simplest. Here is a film about a boy who loved a balloon – and a balloon who loved him back. It really is that simple, and yet when the finale of the movie comes, I couldn’t help it, but I got just as swept up as the boy in the movie. Yes, it is a simple film. But it’s also a masterwork.