The release of the film Le Ballon rouge in 1956 was accompanied by a picture book by Albert Lamorisse presenting the film’s story in words and pictures. The book was produced in the early spring of 1956 and soon became a bestseller the world over. Here is an overview of consecutive editions.
Le Ballon rouge par A. Lamorisse
Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1956
“Les photographies de ce livre ont été pris au cours du tournage du film LE BALLON ROUGE”
Photos by A. Lamorisse and P. Goupil
Front cover photo: Pascal in the rue Vilin (balloon reflections airbrushed out).
Back cover photo: Balloons fly over the passage Piat and passage Julien-Lacroix (colour image)
Printed in rotogravure by Draeger, April, 1956
London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1957
Translated by Malcolm Barnes
Front cover photo: same as the French edition but brighter, sharper, and with reflections in the balloon
On the title page the name of the script girl (Reinie Bource) is given as “R. Bowice”
Text re-set in a sans serif typeface.
Printed in Germany by Carl Schünemann Bremen
(credit line on final page)
Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1957 (?)
Printed in Germany by Carl Schünemann Bremen, Graphische Betriebe (rotogravure)
Front cover photo: same as the French edition but brighter, sharper, and with reflections in the balloon
In 1959 a Czech edition followed. This one was markedly different:
Czech edition: Cerveny balónek
Prague: Státny nakladatelství detské knihy, 1959
Translated by Adolf Kroupa and with an afterword by Adolf Hofmeister. Graphic design by Josef Prchal. Managing editor: dr. Arnostka Kubelková. Art editor: Vlastimil Lazansky. Text font: Gill Sans.
Press run 30,000 copies. Thematic group 14/2, 1.
Paperback Kcs 10.50, hardback Kcs 17.50.
Features endpapers printed in orange-red.
No printer listed.
Front cover photo: Pascal resting on the top of the stairs in the cité d’Isly, overlooking Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix. Black-and-white photo from page 29, hand-tinted and heavily airbrushed (especially the balloon).
A special feature of the Czech edition is the afterword by Adolf Hofmeister, which goes something like this:
“Dear children and parents, you’ve seen the film The Red Balloon? About the friendship between a red balloon and a small boy, taking place in Paris, in places that are similar to some parts of old Prague. The film won the love of children around the world. Do you think that it is not possible? That balloon cannot be alive? No, that goes only adults. For children in the world everything is possible, to fly in a balloon high over Paris…” (Abstract by Petr Gajdosík)
Adolf Hoffmeister was a Czech writer, translator, playwright, journalist, lawyer and politician. In 1939 he emigrated to Paris, spent six months in prison, fled to Morocco, was in a concentration camp, 1941 fled to the USA and became editor of Voice of America. Returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945. Was Czech ambassador in Paris, 1948-1951. From 1951 rector of the University of Prague and President of Czech PEN club. After 1968 he was banned from all public activity. He died in 1973.
(see more of Hofmeister’s work here)
English textbook edition
London: Methuen & Co Ltd, 1959
First published April 30, 1959; reprinted 1960 and 1962.
Original French text by A. Lamorisse; all other text by Methuen & Co.; illustrated by Shirley Hughes; printed and bound by Butler & Tanner Ltd, Frome and London.
Publisher’s Note: “This edition is published by arrangement with Librairie Gallimard [should be Hachette?] and the author, to whom our thanks are due. All rights are reserved.”
Contains the original French text (30 pages), a biography of the author, a list of “special speech units”, irregular past historic forms used in the book, parts of the verb “devoir” used, with their meanings; vocabulary (6 pages).
Shirley Hughes’ illustrations were based on the photographs in the original book.
French reprint edition
Paris, l’Ecole des loisirs, 1976
[reprinted 1985, 2007]
Mediocre offset printing by Mame Imprimeurs, Tours, France, resulting in flat images.
Design: same as original but text re-set in Times Roman.
Front cover photo: detail of the colour photo from page 25 (Pascal and Sabine Lamorisse with blue and red balloons)
American paperback edition
Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc. (A Zephyr Book). ISBN 0-385-14297-8. Cover design by Peter Schaefer.
Cheap offset printing on cheap paper resulting in atrocious photo reproductions.
Front cover photo: probably based on the 1976 edition.
Certain liberties were taken with the page layout as well:
American reprint edition
Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Library of Congress Catalog Card number 57-0220
Front cover photo: alternate version of the original (Pascal looking straight into the lens)
Back cover photo: same as original. Back cover lists ISBN.
In the morning of January 14, 2000, Dutch artist Fiona Tan (b. Pekan Baru, Indonesia, 1966) gathered fifty large red helium-filled balloons, affixed their strings to a harness and was briefly lifted into the chilly winter air above Amsterdam’s Sarphati Park. The activities were photographed and filmed by her assistants as well as by some press photographers. She drew the attention of passers-by walking their dogs and/or their children. Tan: “This was a dream I have had for a long time, ever since childhood, in fact.”
In Het Parool newspaper, Tan was quoted as saying, “The balloons make me go upwards. They are lifting me up.” Her flight was recorded for posterity by a professional film camera and a simple video camera.
The flight was successful; earlier Tan had worried whether the fifty helium balloons would be enough to carry her 50-kilo body, but they did. At times she was as high as 5 metres above the ground.
After a few short flights, Fiona returned to earth, loosened the balloons and handed them to the surprised onlookers.
The event, seemingly inspired by the final scene of The Red Balloon, was a work of art. More specifically, it was the basis of a “film & video installation colour, silent digital betacam safety master, dvd, 16 mm filmprint, monitor 14 inch, dvd player, table, film projector 16 mm, no-rewind, electronic sensor, white projection screen”. As such, it became part of Tan’s solo exhibition at Paul Andriesse Gallery, Amsterdam, in September-October 2000. An image of Tan in flight was also made into a silkscreen print (108 x 64 cm); selected black & white images were on display as well.
Art critic Douglas Heingartner wrote in Frieze:
“Lift (2000) . . . was well documented, yet only a few stills of Tan suspended in mid-air were included in this show, alongside several freeze-framed images of children with balloons. By encouraging the viewer to imagine their own version of her flight, Tan addresses the fragmentary nature of memory. Think, for a second, of a long-lost friend: the image in your head probably isn’t a film loop or video, but rather a still frame, blurry around the edges, perhaps a bit shaky, like a videotape on pause. The stills from Lift are, like our own memories, tentative, tenuous, possibly manipulated. Tan doesn’t withhold the registration of the event; she simply presents one version that requires more input.”
Fiona Tan told an interviewer that she “wanted to make an uplifting, hopeful work. Suddenly I had the image of flying with balloons. Around 1900 everyone seemed obsessed with photographing and filming the first experiments in flying. There exists an odd film of a tailor who jumps off the Eiffel Tower with home-made wings attached to his arms.”
Jacquine van Elsberg, writing in Skrien magazine, was the only reviewer mentioning the project’s references to The Red Balloon.
S. Monshouwer in Kunstbeeld (2000), p 16-17
Jacquine van Elsberg in Skrien (November 2000), p. 66
Kees Keijer in Het Parool (18 January 2003), PS van de week, p 26-29
Douglas Heingartner in Frieze
Roland-François Lack of The Cine-Tourist writes –
“In Philippe de Broca’s Le Farceur (1960), which is all over Paris, there is one brief shot of the carrefour Piat.”
Ketty Belhassen, a former resident of 16 rue Vilin, recalls going up the stairs at the end of the street and frequenting the Boulangerie-Pâtisserie — the same one as visited by Pascal in Le Ballon rouge (Furore 21, p 63). “The boulangerie was open on Sundays. Every Sunday my father would give us 50 centimes each and then we would run to the boulangerie and buy our malambars and carambars, which cost 5 centimes then.”
In 1954, Mr Fauchille, director of the Delespaul-Havez company, and his employee Mr. Galois had a surplus of cocoaand decided to create a new, original recipeto use it up. The legend says that one of the machines in the factory was malfunctioning, making the long bars that still exists today. This sweet, in the form of a bar, was christened Caram’bar (with apostrophe). Inside of the wrappers, there were “Caram’bar points” which could be redeemed for various related products until 1961 when points where replaced by jokes. In 1972, the name changed to “Super Caram’bar”. In 1977, the name lost its apostrophe.
The sweets are now manufactured by Cadbury France. Official website: http://www.carambar.fr/
In the summer of 1957 the Lamorisse family visited London, England. During a ceremony at the French Institute in South Kensington, Albert Lamorisse was presented with the British Film Academy Special Award for Le Ballon rouge. Afterwards, outside, his seven-year-old son Pascal held the strings of 50 red balloons; at his father’s word he let them sail into the air. Anyone who retrieved a balloon could exchange it for a copy of the book which is adapted from the film’s screenplay.
Lamorisse père then helped the assembled photographers who were taking stills of Pascal. Papa clicked his fingers above his head. Pascal looked up and the cameras recorded the expression that had endeared the boy with the red balloon to millions of picture-goers all over the world.
(From an article in Films and Filming)Read More
David Rayner writes –
“Here in the UK, The Red Balloon was given the honour of being chosen, along with The Battle of the River Plate, to be shown at The Royal Film Performance premiere in December, 1956, at the Empire, Leicester Square, London, and both films were sent out on general release together and were very successful at the box office. See attached scan of a magazine poster from the time. I went to see both films at my local cinema as a ten year old in April, 1957.”