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.”

Le Ballon rouge 18'21" © Films Montsouris

(Actually, I don’t see any wire here.)

And here is some more about wires and special effects.

© Collection Lamorisse

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.

7 Comments

  1. I would like to know how they filmed the ending where the balloons take the boy on a ride.

    • First they lifted Pascal and a bunch of balloons up from ground level (filmed at rue du Transvaal); two assistants held a bar from which the boy was suspended. There is a close-up of his feet lifting from the ground. Then they cut to a shot of a lifelike doll being taken upwards by the drifting balloons. That was filmed several times.

      • Thanks,it’s taken me a long time to find a real answer.

  2. The balloon is magic. It is a metaphor, of course, and an integral part of my childhood (from CBS’s Children’s Film Festival, hosted by Kukla, Fran & Ollie.) Its movements are balletic, seamless, lifelike. I never wanted to know how it moved, until I grew older in my chosen field of Theatre.
    Upon viewing it tonight after several years, one shot – toward the very end, when the gang of boys finally corner the balloon and deliver a killing shot – only then did I catch a glimmer of monofilament, caught in the daylight. A similar shocked accompanied a viewing of “The Wizard of Oz.” The most up-to-date restoration of the film digitally revealed the Lion’s tail being whipped around from above by fishing line. Disappointing, still charming.
    The special effects in “The Red Balloon” are astonishing. I really don’t care how they were accomplished. The balloon has a life of its own.

  3. How many balloons did they use for the movie?

    • I don’t know.

  4. After all these years now I have a tablet it bought back happy memories and some tears. Every grandparent should show it to their
    Grandchildren. Would they appreciate it as much as I did then and also
    now?
    Many thanks for old memories! (I am now almost 77 years old)

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