The Red Balloon (1956, by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse), is a short film at just over 30 minutes, but a film that nonetheless leaves a lasting impression. The balloon is the boy’s friend, mostly steadfast and true, following him as he traverses over and through the streets of Paris. This film seems to have been able to put its finger on that specific feeling of childhood that dissolves over time, that intimate knowledge of one’s own solitary self, and that acceptance of the alone-ness and real-ness of conscious existence. Boy against world, with only balloon as silent support and comfort. The other children make much worse companions in comparison, always jeering and scheming, fighting and teasing. Why is it human nature to destroy all things that are innocent and beautiful? Life is tough kid, and there ain’t no denying it.
…and for when those tuckered out tots are finally a’ snoozin’, an equally beautiful and moving film is The Flight of the Red Ballon (2007, by Taiwanese New Wave film director Hou Hsiao Hsien). An homage to The Red Balloon, this movie stars the ever amazing Juliette Binoche, who plays a stressed-to-the-max upper-crust bohemian puppeter/mother, struggling through her daily trials of home life and work life while also enduring a long, possibly permanent separation from her partner and son’s father. Sounds awesome right??? It is! She even fights with her neighbour downstairs and calls the cops to kick him out! She is THAT overwhelmed and frustrated. In any case, even if it is to only make your own (non-Parisian, non-bohemian, non-smoking in your own damn house because it is France and no one cares) life seem a little easier to manage, it is worth a watch.