by Douglas Messerli
Albert Lamorisse (writer and director) Le Ballon rouge (The Red Balloon) / 1956
Hsiao-hsien Hou and François Margolin (writers), Hsiao-hsien Hou (director) Le Voyage du ballon rouge (Flight of the Red Balloon) / 2007
In Albert Lamorisse’s wordless classic of 1956, The Red Balloon—a movie I saw as a young man and watched again the other day—a bright cherry-red balloon is retrieved from a balcony by a young French boy, who befriends the object to such a degree that he risks being late to school (he is not allowed to take the balloon on the streetcar) and puts it into the hands of the school janitor for safe-keeping until the end of the day. By the time he has reached home that evening, the balloon and he have developed such a close “friendship” that the red globe patiently waits by the boy’s window until it can be retrieved, and the next morning plays with Pascal, following, rising above, and darting ahead on their voyage through the streets of Monmartre.
Los Angeles, January 5, 2008