The Red Balloon/ Le Ballon Rouge
I recently had the pleasure of showing a group of students (kindergarten-6th grade) the classic short film The Red Balloon. Filmed in 1956, it is the only short film ever to win an Oscar for best original screenplay. French director Albert Lamorisse's delightful film tells the story of a young boy who becomes friends with a large red balloon and the two become inseparable. (Incidentally, the young actor who played the boy is Lamorisse's son.) The two explore the streets of Paris together that paints a dazzling picture on screen.
I had my concerns about whether to show the film to the younger students, my thought was they would have a hard time sticking with it and understanding the story. Much to my surprise, the older students had the problem with the movie. It was as if they were unable to see the film from the perspective of a child. They spent so much time trying to figure out what the deal was with the balloon. Was it possessed? Was the boy dreaming? What was the point of the movie? However, the younger students were very taken by the film. They sat mesmerized at the beautiful landscape, the cute boy and, of course, the red balloon. They completely accepted the fact that the boy and the balloon were best friends and were filled with rage when the gang of bullies tried to come between them.
It is a short film, with a running time of 34 minutes. In this short window of time a beautiful story is told that is more than a joy to watch. My advice is to take it for what it is, don’t question it too much and try to watch it with childlike eyes.