Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Red Balloon - A Classic Short

I guess "The Red Balloon" made a lasting impression on me when I first saw it, which was probably 30 to 36 years ago. I could not have told you what exactly happened, but the imagery floated in my memory. I just saw the film for the first time since then and my fleeting mental imagery was just like the rather large balloon, dipping in and out of my mind just like it did on film with the boy.

There is no great analysis of this film here - other than to say it is a masterful use of cinema to tell a fantastical tale of the dreams and possibilities of youth. There are lessons to be learned about others trying to block those possibilities, but overall, it is charming and has a fun and wish-fulfilling ending. At 38 minutes, it is the type of film that I would love to see more of an outlet for.

Film school is built on short films. Oscars are still given out for short films, documentaries and animated shorts. A lot of artistry on film can be found in shorter lengths than the typical feature, but the general public never sees much of this work. I suppose that Youtube is providing a venue and helping generations get used to shorter film experiences. A lot of what comes up there is not very artistic though.

There is a case for depth - a feature length film that is worth watching will provide a deep experience and that is what we crave in cinema. But after watching "The Red Balloon", it's just a "too bad" situation - it is too bad that we don't have more outlets for public viewing of 38 minute films. Director Albert Lamorisse proves that it can be as fulfilling as the best of the classic epics of cinema.

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