The Red Balloon Part 2
The Red Balloon Part 3
The Red Balloon Part 4
The Red Balloon is not Just a Child’s Film
The film The Red Balloon, directed by Albert Lamorisse, is, on the surface, a short, pointless movie about a young boy and a red balloon he finds. It is, on a higher level, a metaphor for friendship and a barometer for the viewer’s imagination, and inspires thought. It is a story about a boy who finds a red balloon caught on the top of a street pole. He really likes his balloon, and carries it on his way to school. However, balloons are not allowed on the bus, so the boy must either abandon it or miss the bus. He opts to miss the bus, because who would want to abandon a friend to get to school on time? This causes him to be late to school, and since he obviously cannot bring the balloon into school, he gives it to the janitor to keep until he is out. The janitor gives it back at the end of the day, and the boy walks back home, only to find that his mom does not want the balloon in the house, and throws it out the window. Most balloons would fly up and be lost forever, but this was the boy’s friend. It stays hovering outside his apartment window until morning. Those are the events of just one day, and this film spans several.
The acting in The Red Balloon is superb. The film does not have any dialogue, only sound effects, and an occasional unintelligible shout, so the actors’ abilities are really put to the test. For a young child actor such as the boy in this film, it would have to be a great challenge, and he was up to it. He portrays the perfect innocent little boy, making it seem like the genuine article. He emits an innocence and naiveté that are typical of a boy his age, and the adults in the film also seem genuine.
Sound is very important in a movie such as The Red Balloon, where there is no dialogue. Lamorisse does a fantastic job of choosing appropriate music and sound. For example, when the boy first climbs up the light pole to get the balloon, a playful little tune that seems a little mischievous plays in the background, and for sound effects, a good example is when the boy is running from a group of schoolboys trying to steal his balloon; in this particular scene the footsteps are loud and sound ominous as they close in on the poor little boy and his balloon.
The story is great, because it shows a little measure of ourselves in it. If you’re young or young at heart, you can instantly understand how the boy feels about his balloon and why he makes the choice to let the balloon use the umbrella on his way home from school, rather than keep himself dry. If you’re an adult or a realist, it makes you feel that maybe you should let a little more imagination into your life.
Cinematography is one of the most important features of a film, in my opinion. It is synonymous with the readability of an article or book, in that it dictates both the flow of the piece and the overall impression. The cinematography in The Red Balloon manages to emit suspense and a sense of urgency during the action scenes. One particularly good example is when the boy stops near a train yard to look at a train far below. He has the balloon with him, and he is by a metal fence with particularly sharp ornamental points on top. Just as the balloon nears the points, a wisp of fog or smoke from below obscures it so the viewer is left wondering what happened to the balloon -- whether it popped or not.
Another example to illustrate the great cinematography is a shot where the camera is aimed straight down a narrow alley. This shot occurred during a chase where some cruel schoolboys are chasing the boy with the red balloon. The boy with the balloon pauses for a while and hears footsteps, and since there is no way to see which direction they are coming from, the suspense is transferred from the boy to the audience. When they suddenly come into view, the viewer feels suspense just as the boy does.
Overall, I would recommend The Red Balloon for all ages, not just children or not just adults, because it is a two-for-one movie deal, philosophy and entertainment, combined in a fantastic package.
Source: LargeSock's Writing