Le ballon rouge (1956)

Le ballon rouge aka The Red Balloon
Written and directed by Albert Lamorisse
(number 301)

I watched this one on youtube 🙂 At only 34 minutes long it’s not too much of a strain to watch, especially when you compare with something like Napoleon..

Now I’m not sure if I’ve seen this before or not. It sort of seems like one of the films they’d ship us into town from school to watch on a big screen. I definitely remember a mostly wordless one about a boy and an eagle, and I’m sure they made us watch The Silent One as well. It does seem vaguely familiar, but then it will have been referenced in other movies and media like…

Also I remember a picture book at the library I used to work at which was stills from the movie and the story over it. So, if I have watched it before I don’t remember it particularly but the whole thing is vaguely familiar.

The other thing it makes me think of is…

I’d love to know how the balloon was operated. I imagine it’s invisible strings, but it’s so seamlessly done and beautiful. You can tell what it’s thinking when it moves about and who it chooses to go with or not.

I love the moment with the little girl with the blue balloon. Another film still I’d love to have a big version of, framed on my wall.

I’m unsure about why we need the gang of mean boys who pursue the balloon. Is it an allegory? I’ve seen online someone thinks it’s about Christ and the trails he faced and I can see that. They seem to want to destroy it just because they can. Is this realistic child behaviour? Maybe? I don’t know. The whole thing is horrible, very much smacks of the bullying stories which make me uncomfortable.

Does it make me love the people? I love the balloon. But yes, always on Pascal’s side in this and hoping he gets away and protects the balloon the way he wants to. Interesting that the filmmaker used his own son for the lead character, and his daughter for the girl with the blue balloon.

Bechdel test: noooo

Best line: … I don’t feel this is applicable.

The scene where all the balloons in Paris come to Pascal’s aid. It’s just stunning. So many bright shiny colours against the grey and beige architecture and against the pale blue sky. Gorgeous.

State of Mind: where are the balloons taking him at the end? That’s…. it looks like they’re taking him up into the stratosphere where they will pop and he will fall. Or he’ll suffocate maybe. I’ve seen this episode of Gotham and it was unpleasant. Been overthinking this ending maybe. The film overall is charming and arty and it’s the kind of thing everyone has heard of and should probably see. It’s charming. A lovely look at Paris in the fifties and generally pretty gentle up until the evil boy gang. Except that the ending is a little unsettling to me.

Watched movie count

Le Doulos (1962)

Le Doulos
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Jean-Pierre Melville based on the novel by Pierre Lesou
(number 473)

I like French films, pretentious boring French films, I like French films two tickets s’il vous plait

The second of the DVDs I hired from Aro St Video shop. This one is a French Noir from the early sixties. It’s steeped in the tropes of the genre: men in trenchcoats and hats, slow atmospheric music, double talk and stoolies.

Plus… veiled homoerotic comments, although that may be me viewing it weirdly and an issue with the subtitles. It’s hard to say.

This really made me think of the book I bought at Book Soup last year – The Cutie, which was about a mob man investigating a murder. This movie is about a just-released-con being strong armed by the police to give them information. The other lead is Silien who is already a police informer and trying to get the right information to feed the police while protecting the people he actually cares about. Everyone in it is so damn cool. Cool and collected.

It’s a very convoluted film, switching between the two leads Maurice and Silien without warning – which was made more difficult to follow because they looked and dressed very similarly. There was casual brutishness and gorgeous massive cars and fantastic sets, but I found it difficult to really immerse myself in. I suspect that there are better Noir films out there.

Does it make me love the people? No, I don’t think so. It wasn’t so much a study of humanity as a series of very tough men doing tough things and talking hard and double crossing each other. Then a ton of shootings.

Bechdel test: We have two named women – Therese and Anita but they are never spoken talking to anyone but men. It’s not really a surprise to be honest.

Best line: I can’t quote directly but me and Blair both enjoyed Silien insisting that a fence finger his jewels at gunpoint. The fence was all, ‘it’s fine, I can see them from here… they’re worth a lot’ and Silien insisting ‘handle them!’

Oh the entendres …

State of Mind: Everyone was very shooty. I feel it did exactly what it set out to do but I am underwhelmed.

Watched movie count