Short Film of the Day: ‘Le Ballon Rouge’ (‘The Red Balloon’)

April 12, 2020

This is the final film in my 2020 Short Film of the Day series. I hope this series has inspired you and helped you pass the time during this period of social distancing. And I can think of no better way to end the series, on Easter Sunday, than with arguably the best family-friendly, live-action short film of all time, Le Ballon Rouge, or The Red Balloon.

Written, directed and produced by French filmmaker Albert Lamoriss, this 1956 fantasy stole the hearts of millions around the world, including judges at the Cannes Film Festival, who awarded it best short film, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gave it the Oscar, surprisingly, not for best short film but for best original screenplay. (It is the only short film to ever win that award.)

While the film confronts themes of hope, loneliness, individualism, friendship, poverty, persecution, love and, of course, pure fantasy, we must be careful not to overanalyze Lamoriss’s work but instead appreciate it on a purely emotional level. The featurette is also a wonderful historical record of the Belleville area of northeast Paris, which has changed drastically since 1956.

For more on the film, see Wikipedia.