The Red Balloon/White Mane
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Two classic family films on one disc: The Red Balloon: Newly restored and available for the first time on DVD, Albert Lamorisse's exquisite The Red Balloon remains one of the most beloved children's films of all time. In this deceptively simple, nearly wordless tale, a young boy discovers a stray balloon, which seems to have a mind of its own, on the streets of Paris. The two become inseparable, yet the world's harsh realities finally interfere. With its glorious palette and allegorical purity, the Academy Award-winning The Red Balloon has enchanted movie lovers, young and old, for generations. Also, White Mane: In the south of France, in a near-desert region called La Camargue, lives White Mane, a magnificent stallion and the leader of a herd of wild horses too proud to let themselves be broken in by humans. Only Folco, a young fisherman, manages to tame him. A strong friendship grows between the boy and the horse, as the two go looking for the freedom that the world of men won't allow them. Long unavailable in the U.S., this extraordinarily shot wonder from Albert Lamorisse, the director of The Red Balloon, is a work of technical sophisticationand immense natural beauty.
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Albert Lamorisse will be forever known for his films and documentaries and also for inventing the strategic board game "Risk". But it was in 1956 in which his third short film "The Red Balloon" (Le Ballon rouge) would earn him the Palme d'Or Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar for best original screenplay in 1956.
"The Red Balloon" is a fantasy short film which starred his young son Pascal and his daughters Sabine and Fanny. The 34-minute short film revolved around Pascale, a boy who sees a red balloon tied to a pole.
The boy takes the balloon of the pole and carries it with him on his way to school. Unfortunately, the balloon is too large to fit inside his ride to school and thus he ends up being late. On his way home after school, you see young Pascal caring for the balloon as he tries to make sure it doesn't get rained on and thus puts it under strangers umbrellas while walking home. But while at home, his grandmother doesn't allow him to bring it inside and she sends the balloon outside the window.
But instead of flying out into the sky, the balloon gently waits for Pascal to bring it inside. The following morning we see how the balloon starts to follow Pascal and even tries to play games with him. Upon going to school, the other kids and even some adults try to get the balloon but the balloon outsmarts them. But because of the kids being loud because of the balloon, Pascale is locked up until the school ends.
While walking home, he meets a girl with a blue balloon (played by his Albert Lamorisse's daughter Sabine) and we see the two balloons interacting with each other.
But the boys from school and the local bullies have their eyes on Pascal's balloon and will do whatever they can to get it and destroy it. Can Pascal protect the balloon?
The second short included on the DVD is "White Mane" (Crin-Blanc) which Albert Lamorisse directed back in 1953.
The 40-minute short is featured in black and white and won a Palme d'Or Grand Prize award at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film takes place in the marshes of Camargue, France and we see a herd of wild horses as they follow their leader, a white stallion known as White Mane.
A group of ranchers try to capture it but White Mane doesn't like humans. Meanwhile, a young fisherman named Folco (played by Alain Emery) wishes he can get close to the wild white stallion. As the ranchers try to catch it again, they fail. Folco asks the ranchers that if he can capture the White Mane, can he have it and the ranchers agree (thinking there is no way the boy can tame the wild horse).
Through challenges between the horse and Folco, the two end up becoming friends but when White Mane returns to his herd, we see the white stallion fighting another horse for leadership and loses. White Mane then retreats and goes back to the boy.
But as the boy learns to get close to White Mane, the ranchers try to catch him.
Can Folco protect White Mane from the ranchers?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Red Balloon" is featured in 1:33:1 and in color. The restored high-definition digital transfer actually makes this film look very nice for a short film that is 53-years-old.
The film has a fine layer of grain and there are some dust particles but for the most part, they are not disturbing or plentiful. If anything, the short film is colorful and I don't think I saw any major warping or any major problems with the video transfer.
As for "White Mane", the short film is presented in B&W and there is a fine layer of grain and you do see dust and scratches but it is by no means intolerable. Overall, the digital restoration is well-done and the overall presentation looks clean.
As for audio, the audio for "Red Balloon" is presented in mono and is in French. While "White Mane" features the original French soundtrack but also an English narration by actor Peter Strauss. "Red Balloon" doesn't have any dialogue and is mainly the sounds to the environments and the music. "White Mane" does have dialogue and you have the choice to watch the film with English subtitles.
Subtitles are in English and are new and improved English subtitle translations.
"Red Balloon/White Mane" do not come with any major special features but a theatrical trailer promoting both films is included on the DVD.
Both "The Red Balloon" and "White Mane" are two short films that have been popular with children for over five decades and have received only rave reviews from critics from various decades.
"The Red Balloon" and "White Mane" were released by THE CRITERION COLLECTION and Janus films back in 1986 on LD and were re-released in 2008 on DVD.
As a person who grew up with "The Red Balloon", I can't help but share with you of how much I loved both shorts. "The Red Balloon" is a children's film that shows you the innocence of youth, a fantasy film that captured the attention of so many through the balloon's interaction with young Pascal and of course, the final scene of the short film makes you wonder how they even created that scene.
But it's a short film that capture innocence but also how bullies wanted to destroy the one thing that Pascal has become friends with. Also, it was great to see (in color) a part of Paris via the Belleville area which no longer exists. And thus, the film not only stands out as a popular children's fantasy short film, it also serves as a record of the Belleville neighborhood in Paris during the mid-1950's.
As for "White Mane", watching it today, one can be enamored by the beauty of the cinematography of the short film but it also captures the marshes of Camargue, France and the wild horses in the region but as a children's film, some parents today may find it a bit much when White Mane tries to fight another horse for dominance and you actually see the two horses fighting and biting each other and causing harm to one another. It's part of nature and it was a film that was loved for many decades but I can understand if some parents of today's society who find that sequence a bit much for their children and also for those who may be sensitive to certain scenes which they may deem as cruelty to animals. I guess in some ways, it is good that the film was in black and white, otherwise we would have seen some bloody horses.
But "White Mane" is a more action-oriented short film as the young Folco befriends a wild horse and this horse really has a distrust towards the humans as it looks as if one of the actors (ranchers) could have really been injured in this film during the making of it. but it's how things were back then and for the most part, you get a sincere look at ranchers going after wild horses and how wild horses react to each other for dominance.
Overall, "Red Balloon/White Mane" is a DVD collection for those who want to own these two Lamorisse classics. It's a solid release, especially if you grew up with either shorts. It's important to note that THE CRITERION COLLECTION is offering the two Janus films now along with William Mason's 1966 short "Paddle to the Sea" but you can find this 2008 release with both films together on one DVD for a good price these days.
This is definitely a short film DVD release that is highly recommended!
The film tells the story (telling story with no words) of a balloon released from being tied to a lamp post by the little boy, and having a mind of it's own, makes the boy his best friend. Too many little hoodlums do their best to destroy the balloon, but the Red Balloon manages to live, at least to the end of the the movie. The movie may have different messages for different people, but the message for me came in the end when the gang of little punks finally kill the Red Balloon. The balloon could could have lived if it had flew away, but decided to stay with his little friend, and it cost the balloon his "life". Such loyality. At this point all the balloons in town (1956 Paris) come and carry the boy away from all his troubles, flying him over Paris in a beautiful scene, with the unforgetable Red Balloon theme playing. The one thing that bothered me was why the little boy did not pick up his "dead" friend from where he was ""killed", and take him along on the flight. .....but anyway a great short film that brought back memories from long ago.
I think I first saw this film when I was in second grade. It was shown on one of those noisy, old projectors at school. Having been a kid who felt really out of place, I related to it a great deal.
Looking at it as an adult, I realize that the same issues of bullying and the one non-fighter amongst the fighters continue to exist in our schools. In some ways, the final chase scene is quite frightening, yet I am sure that many a kid could still relate to it. I think the final escape scene is every bullied child's fantasy.
You don't have to have been bullied or have major issues to enjoy this film. The story overall is quite charming. And the ballons are as much fun as the people, if not more at times. The images of Paris have a sacral-idyllic quality to them while seeming pleasantly ordinary at the same time.
The DVD, being remastered, has excellent color and sound quality. It not only is cleaned up, but I could swaer there is another half minute or so of footage. Anyone who saw a rickety 16 mm version years ago will be quite pleased. It really is an amazing experience!
Albeit this film may not be for more squeamish or very young children, it is something that most kids could relate to. Children like to see other kids being independent and doing things like tame horses and defy wayward adults. The depiction of animals is quite interesting and can provoke reactions of surprise as to the fluid and graceful moves of horses. The horse fighting might be too intense for some kids, but it is depicted as a natural behavior of horses and shows that there are pecking orders in all species. Kids who are having a difficult time in their own lives navigating the pecking order of school and other authority will relate especially well to this film. Sometimes just being understood can be a great morale boost to a troubled child.