le balloon rouge

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Le Balloon Rouge (1956) Analytical Notes (*contains spoilers*):

This half hour short film directed by Albert Lamorisse was sophisticated, fantastical, and original. Basically, the story is about a school boy named Pascal one day finds a balloon on his way to school. He plays with it all day and discovers that it has a mind of its own. When he takes it to school, the class responds chaotically as his classmates fight over it, and the teacher punishes Pascal as a result by locking him up until class ends. On his way home, Pascal meets a girl who has a balloon that also seems to be alive. Later on, his envious classmates snatch his balloon while he’s distracted and eventually kill it. Meanwhile, all the other balloons all magically gathered to rescue Pascal by flying him away to a better place.

Overall, the visuals and sounds are incredibly atmospheric. I was mesmerized by how the reflective lights on the balloon, glass, and wet solid surfaces are captured on film. The colors helped create a mystical quality as the greyish blue and brown contrast heavily with the vibrant red balloon, which helped guide my eye with its movements.

As for the inanimate object itself, I was amazed by how much character was given to it. The balloon is curious, playful, and loyal, almost like a puppy. Sadly, the entire world rejects its existence. The environment is queer, yet at the same time, everything felt somehow familiar.

As for Pascal’s clothing, it simplistically blends in with background. However, as he spends more time with the balloon, his clothing becomes more apparent. In the end, the white sky creates an even sharper contrast, making him stands out even more, as if the balloons are bringing him to life, freeing him from society.

The Red Balloon contains very few dialogues, with certain noises and the music score playing in the background most of the time (reminds me of the 2010 British-French film L'illusioniste by Sylvain Chomet). The audio is appropriate, especially the lack of audio when the balloon begins to shrivel after the other boys attack it. That scene was so effective I think my heart broke ;u;

Ultimately, this film has became another one of my favorites. It’s produced with such high level of sophistication, and I hate myself for not watching it earlier.