When I first saw the film The Red Balloon or Le Ballon Rouge at the cinema in the early 1960s I was blown away a bit like the balloon.
The 1956 fantasy featurette directed by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse follows a little boy and his adventures with a balloon that appears to come to life.
With no dialogue and just a musical score and the sounds of the back streets of Paris the story was and still is universal – and remains an influence on the imaginations of a generations.
In so many ways it was ahead of its time placing the children and the balloon at the centre of the action but without any sugary sentimentalisation.
The balloon symbolises many things from the chance meetings we have in childhood, friendship and loyalty, the desire of young children to care for things such as pets and toys, and of the cruelty of childhood as the bullies appear determined to destroy the balloon.
It’s also a wonderfully poetic, lyrical and romantic film using the Parisian landscape, the crumbling houses, wonky roofs and chimneys and bomb sites as its canvas.
The movie won an Oscar for Lamorisse for the screenplay in 1956 and the Palme d’Or for short films at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival and it is the only short film to win the Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay).
Rather sensibly Lamorisse used his children as actors in the film with his son, Pascal in the main role, and his daughter Sabine as the little girl.