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Film / The Red Balloon

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The Red Balloon (French: Le Ballon rouge) is a 1956 34-minute short film about a boy and his balloon. It was directed by Albert Lamorisse.

One day, a young boy named Pascal finds a red balloon. The balloon is actually alive and has a sentient mind of its own. Thus, they set off an adventure in Paris.

While a simplistic film made for children and to preserve the Ménilmontant section of Paris in film, critics noted the beautiful cinematography, woodwind score, and idealist allegories in a post-World War II Paris. It is noted as an art film.

The film became a sensation in the United States especially with the children. Schools often show the film in cafeterias and the film, for a while, became the largest selling non-running theatrical print.

The film won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. It is the only short film to win any of the five major Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay). It also won the Palme d'Or for short films at Cannes.


It is also available on The Criterion Collection.

Tropes used:

  • Animate Inanimate Object: It becomes clear that the balloon is sentient and is following the boy around.
  • Balloonacy: In the ending, as not nearly enough balloons take the boy flying.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The balloon sinks to the ground and is popped by one of the bullies. But all the other balloons of Paris arrive and take the boy for a ride.