Family / Foreign
1956 / 34 minutes
This Oscar-winning short film tells the story of a boy and the bright red balloon that he, well… befriends. It follows him, like a sometimes naughty pet, always floating nearby, though staying just out of reach of any adults who lunge for it. This is quirky and quietly comedic, but because it is older it does have a slower pace than we might now be used to. However, that can be adjusted if you’re watching it via the YouTube video below, which features a speed-up option.
The big caution here would be for the tension that amps up at about the 24-minute mark. A whole gang of neighborhood kids succeed in snagging the balloon away from the boy and [SPOILER ALERT] parents of sensitive littles will want to know that while the boy quickly regains it, the next few minutes are one big chase which ends at 29:40 with the balloon being burst by a bully. It’s a sad ending for the balloon, yes, but not the boy, as hundreds of balloons from all over the city converge on him, comfort him, and take him for a ride along with them into the sky.
While this almost entirely wordless film is intended for children, it does have something to offer adults too. We get an intriguing look at another time and place – 1950s Paris – and get a taste of French filmmaking. That exotic flare makes this both entertaining and educational.
And you can watch it for free below!