The Red Balloon
Albert Lamorisse ~ Delacourte Press, 1956
Again, if you were a child of a certain era, The Red Balloon was more than a movie and a book, it was a way of being. It was a stolen moment that encapsulated the fight against everything that seemed closed-in or monotonous about life. It was to "rebelle" against anything that was black and white and ordinary like school or dreams not coming true or the bully with an eye on you.
He climbed up the lamppost, untied the balloon and ran off with it to the bus station. But the conductor knew the rules, "No dogs," he said. "No large packages, no balloons."
People with dogs walk.
People with packages take taxis.
People with balloons leave them behind.
Gosh, I loved this book as a kid, which is basically just still shots from a 1956 short film by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse. My mother bought me and my sisters the book years before we saw the movie at a film festival when I was in elementary school.
It amazes me that at two years old my son was equally entranced by it, even never having watched the film. There is something about that big red balloon and the fact that it listens to the boy and at the end the entire world of balloons saves the day and whisks him away from all his pain and sorrow. I also remember being particularly fascinated that the story took place in Paris. How the streets looks so old and curvy and so different from the dirt road/ Spanish moss/ windblown/ ocean/ barefoot childhood of my youth.
Here in 2011, my son's seen the movie dozens of times, and always weeps openly at the end. I know how he feels. I can't even think about The Red Balloon without filling up with so much bitter sweet emotion.
A powerful story, beautifully told.