User:Prettiestpretty/The Red Balloon

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“Where, o' where is a sharp pin when you need one?”
~ Oscar Wilde on The Red Balloon


It ez everyone's favorite movie, no?

The Red Balloon (Fr. Le balloon rouge) is a short film directed by French film-maker Albert Camus in 1956. The movie, which remains a depressing moment for millions of school age children, is filled with symbolism, much of which remains a mystery.

The thirty-four minute film (which has virtually no dialog, because the French prefer metaphor over words) tells the story of a young French boy who learns of life's bitter disappointments with the help of his only friend, a red balloon.

edit Synopsis

The film is set in Paris, and follows the adventures of a young boy, Pascal, who finds a large red balloon lurking on a street corner. Pascal's mother has warned him of such balloons and the boy leaves.

But the balloon has a mind and will of its own, following Pascal wherever he goes, periodically thumping him on the head.

The balloon follows the boy into the public toilet, Notre Dame, and Père Lachaise Cemetery where it pushes the young boy to the grave of Edith Piaf. That night, the balloon lurks outside of Pascal’s boudoir, hovering next to the window. It does this because Pascal's mother won't allow it in the house; the balloon, she reasons, is a bad influence and she has warned Pascal about such perversity.

The following day, in their wanderings around Paris, Pascal and the balloon encounter a gang of bullies who demand to know why a boy of Pascal’s age is not smoking unfiltered cigarettes. Pascal is intrigued by this concept, and argues its merits with the balloon which simply bobbles in the breeze.

Following the encounter with the fly encrusted statue of Napoleon III, they encounter the archetype Old French Whore, played with exquisite passion by Johnny Cash. The Old French Whore (perfected by Cash while on the Folsom Prison), invites Pascal into her cold-water flat where the boy loses his virginity. He also learns an important lesson in life about men who wear dresses and pretend to be women who are down on their luck. Out of pity, the boy leaves a franc on the dresser drawer and he and the balloon leave.

This tragedy is replaced by a magically happy ending in which a French clown cries a single tear, which drops onto a petal of a white rose in the gardens of Versailles. The clown, who is feeling bloated and cramped, hangs himself in the Hall of Mirrors, but is rescued by the balloon and Pascal. Together the two release the balloon which soars off into the sky; they then dance a silly little dance to a forgettable song played by accordion and a tuba.

In the final scene, Pascal returns home that evening, sits at the kitchen balcony. Aglow in the tired afternoon sun he lights a cigarette and then says to his mother "Femme! Me faire un sandwich de bologne et tenir votre langue parce que je n'ai pas besoin d'entendre votre plainte de cet après-midi." ("Mama, I am hungry and have done much today.")


edit Cast


The clown is saved by the relief given him by The Red Balloon

  • Street Urchin: Pascal, the boy who is tormented by the balloon.
  • A plain French woman: Mama
  • Jerry Lewis (as Jerry Louis): French Clown
  • Johnny Cash: Old French Whore
  • French street thugs: Bullies
  • Itself: Red Balloon

edit Reviews

Critics were split on the movie, which generally won over the cinema community, but left everyone else scratching their heads.

~ Frère Jacques, Au Cinéma
“Another reminder why the French can not win a war”
~ Walter Cronkite
“God hates Faggy French Balloons”
“Le bomber le ballon rouge, le tuyau de caoutchouc long...”
~ The Red Balloon movie poster tag line

edit See Also

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