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.”Read More
Albert Lamorisse’s film productions were always more or less family affairs. His wife, Jeanne Claude Duparc, was also his script girl and assistant director. The films were conceived at the kitchen table, with each family member contributing. His children – Pascal, Fanny, Sabine – each played major or minor parts.
As we describe in detail in Furore (p 84-85), Pascal’s bus ride — followed by the balloon — can be broken down into the following segments:
11’33” The 96 bus (car 2848) departs westward along rue de Ménilmontant (at stop Pyrénées-Ménilmontant). Jeanne is among a group of passengers waiting to get on; she has a red skirt and navy windbreaker, a leather bag slung across her shouder. As she gets aboard the bus she is telling the conductor something, after which her face is hidden by the balloon. Pascal “admonishes” the balloon and lets it go; it disappears from view.
11’59” A different 96 bus (car 5710) descends the rue de Ménilmontant at rue Boyer; Jeanne is standing directly behind Pascal; both watch the balloon intensely, as do the conductor and the other passengers.
12’09” Bus 96 (car 2793) is approaching boulevard Richard-Lenoir from rue Oberkampf while being filmed from a moving vehicle (another bus?); Jeanne is standing behind Pascal; this is followed by a close-up of Pascal in the bus, possibly filmed by Jeanne herself.
12’30” Point of view from a moving 96 bus at the low end of rue de Ménilmontant, driving east (passengers not visible).
12’37” Yet another 96 bus (car 2884) drives off at 6 rue Oberkampf; we see only the front of the bus, no passengers.
12’41” Seen from a distance, a 96 bus goes west at the crossing Belleville / Ménilmontant.
12’53 Another 96 bus (car 2116) stops in the rue de Rennes and Pascal alights. His mother is not in view.
In a deleted scene, car 2843 is in the rue Saint-Antoine. Pascal looks at the balloon above; his mother is mostly hidden from view behind another passenger.
Vitrier! Vitrier! Vitrier!
Left: rue du Cascades, right: rue Piat
Left: Albert Lamorisse, The Red Balloon, 1955
Right: Robert Doisneau, “Passerelle à vapeur”, 1957
Note: Lamorisse, Doisneau and Ronis probably all knew each other and each other’s work. Lamorisse started out as photography assistant to François Tuefferd, who belonged to a group of photographers also including Willy Ronis and Robert Doisneau.Read More
Jos Rampart writes:
I enjoyed your recent issue of Furore about Le ballon rouge. It is a magnificent edition full of information about father and son Lamorisse, the Belleville locations and the camera work. The only thing missing is the solution to the mystery how the balloon was made to move. An internet search did not help me. Can you answer the question how the natural movements of the balloon (and balloons) were realized?
Piet Schreuders replies:
The Red Balloon was supposedly a magic balloon, but such balloons do not exist in real life. Therefore the filmmakers must have used a thin wire to make it move. Exactly how they did this I don’t know, so I didn’t write about it.
But imdb.com has various commentaries on the subject. Someone wrote, “For a brief instant, a wire can be seen attached to the balloon as the boy waits to cross a street. Wire stands out against blue coat of man standing behind him looking on as the boy waits for intersection to clear.”
(Actually, I don’t see any wire here.)
And here is some more about wires and special effects.
This picture shows the film crew at work in the rue du Transvaal. A man holds a long fishing rod. The balloon wire is probably attached to this, but it is not visible here.Read More