Has Anyone Not Seen The Red Balloon?
The earliest movie that I can ever remember seeing in school as a child was The Red Balloon. We saw when I was in grade two I think. Oh, I'm sure I saw some National Film Board films first, or something about Zinc… but absolutely nothing had the impact upon me as a child that The Red Balloon did.
When I went to Paris earlier this year, images from the film floated around in my head, just under the conscious level. Part of the joy I was experiencing at seeing Paris was related to the images buried deep in my mind of the child in the film walking through Paris with his balloon.
I also know with a certainty that I can never witness an act of bullying without visceral reactions that stem largely from what happens at the end of the film. I know a lot of kids saw this movie in school, and I suspect that most if not all (how could it not be all?) had the same reaction that I did when they saw it — wonderment, happiness, then fear, shock, outrage, sadness and finally quiet relief followed by the sort of joy people feel at a weddings that makes them cry.
Seeing the movie again was nostalgic and wonderful, but also very interesting at the same time. I’ve spoken with people about The Red Balloon before, and always the things that came to mind were the shock and the outrage. I would even go so far as to say that I mostly remembered The Red Balloon as a negative, almost scarring incident in my past. I remembered the shock in the movie (I’m using vague language here to avoid spoilers … yet is it possible to spoil this movie? Is it possible any of you haven’t seen it?) and I remembered how hard it hit me as a child — but I didn’t remember the rest of it. Not clearly. It speaks volumes about the effect of traumatic incidents on us as children that I could remember the 15 seconds of pain in this movie clearly, but not remember the 30 minutes of joy and happiness.
Here is a link to a blog post on The World of Kane that links to all 4 parts of The Red Balloon on YouTube. If you have a half an hour to spare, I highly suggest you watch the movie again, because I think you will see things you had forgotten.
I *will* spoil one thing from the blog post though, just because it’s so out-of-left-field. Albert Lamorisse, the man who directed The Red Balloon and won an academy award for it in 1956, also created the board game Risk. Nice!