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The Red Balloon Film or Le Ballon Violet


There it goes, up in the sky
There it goes, beyond the clouds
For no reason why
And, I can’t cry hard enough…
For you to hear me now

–From The Williams Brothers

Red Balloon Movie Filmed by the Eiffel Tower in Paris

[7 am]
This is what I do. I hold my little boy while he cries and cries because he let of go his purple balloon. It floated away in a morning nightmare. He is completely inconsolable. I promise him we’ll get another balloon, but this brings little comfort.

“Froggy gave me that one,” Sully says.

Froggy is a turtle, and Sully’s imaginary friend.

Maybe Froggy will bring another balloon tonight.

[9 am]
In the 1956 movie, Le Ballon Rouge, or in English, The Red Balloon, the balloon actually chooses the little boy. If you’re a member of Generation X and you were in grade school in the 1960s, chances are you saw this popular movie. I really liked it! Do you remember it?

red balloon french film

[930 am]
I enjoyed watching films in grade school. My favorite was a 1969 documentary, Leo Beuerman. I never got over this film. “Never-got-over” meaning it’s haunted me my entire life. Its images stalk me…

If you saw the documentary in grade school, I’ve been waiting 30-something years to talk to someone about this movie.

Red Balloon over city

[1020 am]
“You are my sun, momma,” Sully says. Maybe you’ll get a balloon, too.”

[1035 am]
MOMMA: “What does it mean to be the sun?”
SULLY: “You’re not the sun. You’re my sun.”

Did you ever see the Red Balloon film in school?

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. wildbillyelliott

    Ahh, The Red Balloon…

    Yes, I saw this movie in Elementary School too. I enjoyed it very much, and looked forward to seeing it again after watching it. It always spurred much discussion amoung my classmates regarding “where” the boy and the balloon “went”.

    It has been almost 40 years since I’ve seen it; the thing I remember most is the unsettled feeling it gave me in the end. What I wondered about most was not where the boy and the balloon went; While most of my peers were questioning what the movie MEANT, I was wondering what our TEACHER wanted us to “get” from the movie. WHY was it so important to show us that movie over and over again?

    I still wonder that. Maybe it’s some subliminal left-wing liberal social agenda; but more likely it is one of those “it’s whatever you think it is” things…

    I would like to see it again, and I wonder what my reaction to it will be. Is it about the lack of daycare? It is about dicipline, or “letting go”? Is it about death, or perhaps Heaven?

    Wow, such a deep movie for 1st graders.

  2. junkdrawer67

    Remember it? Are you kidding. I fell in love with that move instantly. So much so that my parents got me a picture book version of it. I still have; it sits on my daughter’s bookshelf with her other titles. I brought it home from the library where I work and asked her to watch it with me. At first, she found it kind of boring, but eventually it hooked her and she adored it. One of the best moments of my life, watching this movie that I love so much as a child with my daughter and her enjoying it too.

  3. le @ thirdontheright

    wow that sully …. can just feel the love radiate … le xox

  4. TheMuffinMan

    They still show this in grade school today!

  5. Lavinia

    Gee, I was a kid around that time, but none of these movies rings a bell. Hmmmm….

    I did however enjoy that sweet story of your son and his balloon….

  6. June

    This is such a beautiful post! Thanks for the shout out, by the way 🙂

  7. Debra W

    Dearest Jen,

    Thank you for bringing The Red Balloon back to me. I haven’t thought about it for years. I would love to meet you at The Red Balloon coffee shop. Let’s pretend that it is someplace between Oklahoma and California and that we can just close our eyes and meet there! I would love to have coffee with you!

    I am sad about Sully’s balloon. Have you tried telling him that the balloon is now a gift for the angels? My girls always bought that one. I guess the idea that the balloon wasn’t just floating off into nowhere always made them feel better.

    I have been wanting to thank you for one of the beautiful comments that you left for me recently. Telling me your side of the story about how my brother helped bring us together. I cannot tell you how much hearing your story meant to me. I will cherish it always, Jen.

    Your children are precious, Jen and I love hearing the little things that they say. You stories always remind me of my daughters younger days. Thank you for sharing the funny little things that your babies say. I always smile when I read them.

    Big hugs, dear one.

  8. jenX67

    @JENNY – He loves you waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back!! LOL!

  9. jenX67

    @GRACIE – Be very discreet about mentioning Froggy. He’s protective of him. =)

  10. jenX67

    @TR – I love the Oklahoma reflection – I NEVER sang Frere Jaques and I was in Colorado, Texas, California in grade school. I didn’t come to Oklahoma until I was 15.

    Your nephew may be correct! I purchased this photo from for $2, although it’s all over the Internet for free.

    See you and Jean Thursday!!!

  11. jenX67

    @Territory MOM – I have never heard of those films. I’ll have to go Google them!

  12. jenX67

    @FARMGIRL – That was so funny. I read it to my oldest.

  13. jenX67

    @Lin – You know how much we moved throughout my childhood – every teacher I had from 2nd-5th grade – no matter where I lived – played this film. I thought the balloon was so lonely. And, I thought the boy was lonely. And, on some level I did think the balloon was a stalker – taking the kids away from – (I’m not making this up) – his neglectful parents. I mean, where were they???? I suppose this is a very Gen X interpretation. I love you dear sis.

  14. T.R.

    Yes I remember this movie! It seems like every Saturday or Sunday afternoon in the 60’s some local channel was showing very sort of dark, intense, independent films about children in other countries. I remember another one where a boy befriended a pelican in some European city.

    No one “out there” believes that we had access to that in Oklahoma in the ’60’s or that we read “Babar” or that we played mille borne or learned to sing Frere Jacques in it original language in kindergarten. Come to think of it – I can’t believe it either! What happened since then!!

    My 9 yo nephew just looked over my shoulder and swears that your horse pic came from a Scholastic News magazine.

  15. Territory Mom

    I wish I could talk to you about these films. They sound wonderful. I do know about Kookla, Fran and Ollie. Happy St. Pat’s.

  16. Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

    This is such a touching glimpse at your relationship with your little boy, and it’s beautifully written.

    About a year ago, my brother gave my girls the DVD of The Red Balloon. The first time we watched it, everything about my childhood came flooding over me. You write about a different movie haunting you, but it’s The Red Balloon that haunts me. The music, the images! I think my kids feel that way about it too–they sort of have a complicated relationship with the movie that they can’t quite parse. Maybe it communicates something deep and untouchable, that we can’t begin to grasp until we’ve lived more life.

    Anyway, thanks for this. I would love to meet you at The Red Balloon Cafe!

  17. Jenny

    That is so sweet (you are my sun).

    My 4 y.o sons thing for me is, “I love you all the way to the dinosaurs and back.” Makes the heart smile.

    I do remember that movie…totally forget about it.

    Happy St Patty’s Day

  18. Anonymous

    I just saw “The Red Balloon” on TV last month. It is one of my favorite films. Sorry Sully lost is balloon. They do escape from time to time. I would love to meet Froggy.
    Hugs– Gracie

  19. Oklahoma Farmgirl

    How absolutely sweet!! Children are so wonderful. I just love their thought process & reasoning. I called my granddaughter my sweet darlin girl one day & her brother asked me why. I told him because she is my sweet darlin girl. He replied “Grammy, she ain’t sweet”. Too funny!! And they are best friends-the last time I was there he was teaching her to read (he is seven she is five)

    Enjoy these times were you are Sully’s sun.

    Blessed be…

  20. Anonymous

    I saw the Red Balloon. Meet me at the not so immaginary coffee shop, The Buzz, tommorrow at 2:30for coffee.

  21. Lin

    I remember the movie, The Red Balloon. In fact, I’ve thought about it ever since – now and then. I don’t really remember what it was about – except that I was always a little freaked out by the balloon lifting the little boy into the air and taking off with him. I never wanted a red balloon after that…

    I never knew you saw this…I’m curious to know how you interpreted it.

    Love you, Lin


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