Last week the Pierce family watched The Red Balloon (full film). Robert remembers fondly that his mother took him and his brothers across Los Angeles to see it at a museum when he was about 6 years old. That was 1973, so it had already been in release for seventeen years.
The thirty-four minute short, which follows the adventures of a young boy who one day finds a sentient, mute, red balloon, was filmed in the Ménilmontant neighbourhood of Paris. It won numerous awards, including an Oscar for Lamorisse for writing the best original screenplay in 1956 and the Palme d’Or for short films at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. The film also became popular with children and educators.
In what must be one of the most bizarre film reviews ever written, Philip Kennicott, in the Washington Post, wrote:
“[The film takes] place in a world of lies. Innocent lies? Not necessarily. The Red Balloon may be the most seamless fusion of capitalism and Christianity ever put on film. A young boy invests in a red balloon the love of which places him on the outside of society. The balloon is hunted down and killed on a barren hilltop–-think Calvary–-by a mob of cruel boys. The ending, a bizarre emotional sucker punch, is straight out of the New Testament. Thus is investment rewarded-–with Christian transcendence or, at least, an old-fashioned Assumption. This might be sweet. Or it might be a very cynical reduction of the primary impulse to religious faith.”