Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Red Balloon

I was in the third grade when I saw my first “art” film, a sweet masterpiece of French cinema called “The Red Balloon” (Albert Lamorisse, 1956). Short, simple, and almost wordless, this is the story of a young Parisian boy named Pascal living an ordinary life in the dull gray of postwar France. And then he finds a shiny red balloon tied to a lamppost...

Each time I see this movie (or read the book with my children), I laugh, I cry, and I’m filled again with the impossible joy of being a child. What a beautiful and hopeful lesson this is about believing in dreams and avoiding those who would puncture them. At the end, as the balloons lift Pascal above the gray ordinariness into the air, they seem to ask him, “How high?”

Watching this as an adult, I wonder how many had passed by the balloon tied to the lamppost that day. How many never even looked up, so focused on the dailyness of their lives? I want to live looking up, noticing the balloons around me, grasping at their strings and running wildly after beauty and dreams, sometimes with fear at my back, but always asking “How high?”


"And all the balloons of Paris came down to Pascal, dancing around him, twisting their strings into one strong one and lifting him up into the sky.”

23 comments:

Sydney said...

I remember seeing this moving on PBS in Chicago when I was a kid and it had a profound impact on me. Many times as an adult I have tried to find it to see it again. I am astonished you wrote about it today!

Peggy said...

I, too, was deeply touched by this short movie, Sydney. Wouldn't it be fun to make some nice tea and watch it together?! :-)

Reya Mellicker said...

I remember that film so distinctly. Though simple, it had impact. Thanks for reminding me!

Dave King said...

I saw it at college, I remember. One of the top experiences of my first year!

Peggy said...

Dave, isn't it funny how certain things--and they don't have to be life-changing things--can take us back to where we were and what we were doing when we encountered them? I can remenmber my third-grade gymnasium where we all gathered to watch this 35-minute wonder. Thanks you so much for sharing your memory!

Derrick said...

Hello Peggy,

How wonderful to "run wildly after beauty and dreams"?! All too often the daily grind channels our attention otherwhere!

Thanks too for your kind words on my post today.

Peggy said...

Derrick, your words are so true! Thanks for taking the time to stop in and visit today! :-)

Marie Reed said...

I'm glad that your children appreciate it! My kids just roll there eyes when I pop it out. And we live in France...!

Peggy said...

Marie, maybe it's because I was so moved by it when young. When I watch it now with my kids (and especially when I introduced them to the film) it is with that hushed reverence and anticipation that precedes all things magical! Thanks so much for stopping by today! :-)

Brenda Heisler said...

I remember that. It was the first "artsy" movie I ever saw as a kid. Love it!! It just took me to another place I'd never been. I didn't know movies could be like that.

Thanks for posting it.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

So beautiful! I need to add this one to my netflix queue!

Peggy said...

Brenda, I hope you'll think about watching it again. It's a whole other experience as an adult! Thanks for stopping in today.

Pamela, I know you'll adore the film! You too, Edward! :-) Let me know what you thought after you see it.

willow said...

I haven't seen this since I watched it with my kids when they were little. I need to give it another visit! I remember it being so lovely.

sizzie said...

You speak of looking up, I often find myself looking down. Not in a depressing way, but at the ground as I walk. I find a lot of lost things that way. But, as you have reminded me, there are things to find by looking up, too. I'll try that for a while and think of your words when I do. Thanks.

The Queen Of Re said...

Nice to meet you too.

Poetikat said...

I remember seeing this at about the same age you did. It WAS so joyful and uplifting (if you'll pardon the pun). I would love to see it again.

Peggy, I have something at my blog for you. Please stop by when you get the chance.

Kat

Ann said...

You know your post made me think of how I love balloons as a child and I want to bring mine home after a party. But now, I would tell my son not to bring home his party balloon as it would just take up space on the car...Oh how cruel could I be? :(

Marilyn said...

I found The Red Balloon on Google video this morning and watched it for the first time. A very sweet story. Thanks.

Peggy said...

Marilyn, that's wonderful! It's the kind of movie that sticks with you. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Ann, I think you should go out and get a dozen helium-filled balloons for yourself today! Drive them home in the car with your back window obstructed! You'll feel like a kid again! :-)

Bee said...

I don't know how much "symbolism" you intended for this post, but the spirit does need buoyancy to rise . . .

Peggy said...

Bee, that's a true and beautiful observation. I hadn't even thought of that! Thanks so much for sharing.

High Desert Diva said...

I think I was probably about the same age when I first saw this film. I still remember it...

Peggy said...

Diva, I think it's the kind of film that gets inside of us, don't you? All these years later, and the imprint is still there.