You might remember the quiet 1956 French film The Red Balloon (Le Ballon rouge) from when you were younger. In this short fantasy film (with almost no dialogue at all!), the red balloon seems to have a mind of its own as it follows around a young Parisian boy, getting Pascal into trouble at school, waiting outside his home when his mother won’t let it in, and trying to avoid a group of bullies with the boy. After a sad climax, there is a happy ending. Here are some ideas to accompany the film.
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You can watch the entire film on-line below from youtube, get a DVD of “The Red Balloon,” or take out a copy from your local library.
Before watching the movie, get out the map and tell your kids that the setting is a neighborhood of Paris, the capital of France. The main character is a little boy named Pascal. I also showed them a flag of France, and told them to find the flag in the movie (it is displayed outside the school). While we were watching it, my daughters had so many observations: that the streets were made of stones (cobblestones), that all of the buildings were made of big grey bricks, that lots of people were walking around, that the little boy lives in an old apartment building, and that it looked cold because the kids had on winter coats. Kids pick up these subtle details especially well because there is not a lot of dialogue to focus on.
After the movie I asked my 6 year old daughter to draw out the plot, or the series of events in order of what happened in The Red Balloon. In case you cannot make out the crayon descriptions in her plot sequence, she says
1) The boy wants the balloon.
2) The balloon follows him.
3) The boy is running away.
4) The boys are not sharing. (She said she was too sad to write when it was popped).
5) The balloons are going away.
6) The boy is flying.
After we drew the pictures we talked about where we think the boy went with the balloons… a birthday party, to a magical world of balloons, to the supermarket to buy another red one, back home, to the park. My favorite: to share them with nicer kids.
Do you remember watching The Red Balloon as a child? Have you ever shared it with your kids?
This is great. Thanks for sharing. We love this movie. We also do a lot of discussion about plot, setting, characters as we are a writing family. I had to laugh when my girls both said the Balloon was a main character. So true!! I’ll repin this on my Movie Night board.
I love the “balloon as the main character” :).. Thanks for sharing!
How cool! We actually just watched this movie with my kids a few weeks ago. 🙂
Oh neat! A lot of people have forgotten about this little gem:). I think it’s such a sweet introduction to “foreign films” for little kids!
Sandi Purdell-Lewis says
A magical movie.
Natasha Silcock says
I just watched this movie online on Christmas day, then again on Boxing day. I got more out of it the second time, it affected me more deeply. It’s a beautiful movie, I love the scenery and the lack of dialogue. I had read the book as a child, but the movie is much better. I love the music in it too. But if I watch it again, and I will want to, I’m only going to watch up to the point where he stops at the bakery and goes in, because I can’t watch those cruel bullies again or see the balloon being destroyed.The ending where he gets carried away doesn’t really make up for it. I can’t get the image out of my mind where the bullies have gone, but Pascal is sitting on the ground holding the string of his ‘dead’ friend, looking sad and bewildered. No, nothing makes up for that. There’s already so much wilful cruelty in this world, I don’t want to willingly watch it if I can avoid it.
But I do love the movie, up to the point where he goes into the bakery. Till then it’s innocent and playful. Such an unusual movie, there’s none quite like it.