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4.7 out of 5 stars64
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on 1 October 2008
This is a superb release of two classic 1950's short films, now on Region 2, for those without multi-region players who didn't buy the Region 1 release of a few months ago. Picture and sound quality on both films are excellent and so they should be, as they have been beautifully restored, at great cost, to their original pristine glory.

I originally went to see "The Red Balloon", as the supporting film to the 1956 Royal Performance Film "The Battle of The River Plate" at the now long gone Broadway cinema in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, on Saturday, April 27th, 1957, one day after my tenth birthday and thought it was totally wonderful. It still looks just as wonderful today, nearly fifty-two years later and you can't say that about many films seen in that era.

You will notice that The Red Balloon has been reclassified from its original "U" rating to that of a "PG." But the British Board of Film Classification, in their wisdom, have, I believe done the right thing here. The film is actually in two parts. Part one is charming and enchanting and funny and lovely. But twenty minutes in, the film suddenly becomes much more serious and has a darker, more ominous tone about it, as the bullies of the neighbourhood appear, intent on not only destroying the happiness that six years old Pascal and his dearest friend, the balloon, have found together, but beating up Pascal and destroying his friend. A large gang of them chase Pascal, as he holds on tightly to his balloon, through the narrow, twisting and turning cobblestoned alleyways and streets of his neighbourhood. Pascal knows that if he and his balloon are caught by these vicious scumbags, it will be the end for both of them and he quite literally is running for their lives. The chase takes on the quality of a terrible nightmare, but one played out not in the darkness of night, but in broad daylight and bright sunlight.

Eventually, the bullies, through sheer weight of numbers, corner and surround Pascal on a hilltop and attack him and try to grab his balloon. But Pascal lets the balloon go and it sails a short distance upward. "Fly away balloon! Fly away!", cries Pascal in desperation. But the balloon will not leave its friend and pays the ultimate price.

These scenes may upset some children with a sensitive nature who have, over the course of the film, come to love the balloon and regard it as a real, living, sentient being. Certainly, I remember being in tears myself when I saw these scenes as a ten year old in April, 1957. I remember feeling upset...a feeling that was only partly alleviated by the spectacular and uplifting ending to the film. Something that seems to say: "There...there...It's alright now...everything's alright now!"

These scenes with the bullies still upset me even today, all these years later. So if you are an adult, watching this with a young child, prepare to hold them and comfort them if they are upset at the murder of Pascal's dearest and most wonderful friend. But, whichever way you look at it, "The Red Balloon" is a superb piece of film making that deservedly won many international awards, including an Academy Award for best screenplay.

"White Mane" is, of course, a completely different film to "The Red Balloon." But there's no mistaking the sheer artistry and talent that has gone into it. Artistry and talent that are undoubtedly the unmistakable hallmarks of Albert Lamorisse, one of the greatest film makers in the history of motion pictures. I highly recommend this DVD of two of his most famous and best loved films.
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on 12 November 2007
I remember watching this film by pure chance in the early 60's on tv and more than anything else I watched as a child, it has simply stayed with me for a lifetime. Although I only watched it once, I can still remember the story perfectly and many of the scenes are like pictures in my mind. It's pure magic! As an almost silent film, I don't know how it made such a lasting impact on me, but it did. Maybe kids were different back then when life was simpler. And yes, life was simpler. Not less stressful, perhaps, but simpler. A jewel of a film and I wish Amazon would get the DVD back in stock, preferably in Region 2, please!!!!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 February 2012
A friend recommended Pixar's "Up" to me recently. He said that he thought it had a world cinema flavour to it. When he then said of that film's plot, I immediately said that it sounded exactly like Albert Lamorisse's 'The Red Balloon'. He was intrigued.

Watching Red Balloon - one half of a Lamorisse DVD, the other being 'White Mane' - directly after 'Up', the similarities echoed ever more. About how when cornered and facing certain 'death' whether that be balloon or small French boy, a last bid for freedom is at least a dream, or even a prayer. 'God', you might say, 'get me out of here' and....well, you can fill that picture in yourselves.

Anyway, back to the almost dialogue-free story. Being somewhat sceptical about having small children being a bit twee and 'Ahh' being sighed audibly as said big, red floaty object follows the boy around like a lovesick puppy. Scorn indeed, but a living, breathing Paris, in the early morning sunshine, along with occasional views of familiar landmarks keeps one keen to see where Mr floaty balloon will float to next. If, like me, you're also probably trying to catch out who and what is controlling this meandering object. "Are there strings attached to watching this DVD?"

The film does have charm and is short enough not to have felt that too much of one's valuable life has been used to see it. This was my fourth viewing and I saw bits I hadn't before and the ending is really one of those that will rekindle faith and humanity into the coldest of hearts. Including slightly scornful and sceptical ones like me!

White Mane is the adjoining feature to 'The Red Balloon' both written by Lamorisse. Red Balloon is obviously in colour, while White Mane is in quite high-key black and white and this could have been to contrast the very different subjects and their treatment.

The Red Balloon takes on a life of its own and gets captured, cornered, like an animal (I think of it as the boy's pet dog, obediently following him, as in Disney films of old) and on its expiration, a "pack" of fellow rubbery spherical objects gather together and rescue the boy from the bullies.

Similarly, the white stallion denotes freedom. It's wild, when very few horses, anywhere in the world, are. And, yet this is modern(ish) southern France, the Carmague. As with any western, baddie guys want to round up and imprison this symbol of beauty and freedom. The un-tamable. Only a lad can - and does. After injury in a fight with an incoming stallion, our stallion (White Mane) reaches out to the lad for help with its injuries.

The final scenes are open to interpretation but to my mind are the same as the boy in Red Balloon. But the outcome is exactly the opposite. Both the horse and the boy knew of their fate but free, together, they can never be captured. Nor their souls.

This is a neat and enchanting set and will set you thinking as well as admiring their beauty. A must for any serious World Cinema enthusiast.
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on 22 July 2012
I remember seeing both the red balloon and white mane as a child. I carried cherished memories of them with me for many years but didn't initially buy them when they became available being afraid that they would not live up to my memories. I was wrong: they are both beautiful and heart felt in their exploration of child hood and freindship in all its shades. I think the PG rating of the red balloon is, on reflection, a good move as this films latter stages could upset smaller and more sensitive viewers. This collection of the two films together is a must for anyone who loves film, brilliant imagery and the magic of good story telling.
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on 3 October 2008
I have had the great fortune of watching both at a young age - the balloon story is beautifully done (as is the white mane) and very thought provoking. I will not spoil the story of the balloon but will say that the tender age of about 12 i had to go through quite a few tissues at the end. After watching this film I made friends with every balloon I was given at parties etc, just in the vain hope that mine would be as special!
The White Mane obviously appealed to me, being a typical horsey mad girl, but the relationship between the boy and the horse is magical. Buy both, I am now its on Amazon!
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on 10 January 2013
The red balloon is not to everyone's taste but I personally loved it. I do not think it would have any appeal to younger film buffs. It is set in a Paris after the war and has no dialogue. Having first seen in in the 1960s I bought it as a piece of nostalgia. This was a personal choice and would interest those who want to see Paris in a bygone age. It was a bit dated and considered boring by a group of young people I showed it to.
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on 22 August 2012
The great thing about the "Red Balloon" is that it still seems as wonderful as it did when I first watched it over fifty years ago. That, of course, is the real test of a great film. With virtually no speaking and a natural slowness to the events it easily bears comparison whith the most emotive of films made nowadays. Quite excellent value.
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on 26 March 2011
Remember watching this as a young boy at the local picture house
Strangely the films images stayed with me and the power of imagination in childhood that others can tread upon (hmm.)
It has been a delight to watch it again
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 December 2011
For people of a certain 'The Red Balloon' will bring back many happy memories.It evokes a Paris now long gone - small family shops, tradesmen plying their wares in the street and old fashioned school masters,stern in their countenance and unbending in their administration of justice.In portraying Paris of the mid-1950's,the film is almost as much a social document as a fairy story.

If ever a film was enchanting, it has to be this one. Even now,in my mid '50's I can't watch this beautifully conceived little movie without a tear or two.There is no dialogue to speak of,but words are unimportant. It's all about the fantastical becoming real. That children in their innocence really are more open to the wonders of the world about them then many a gnarly adult.Even so this dream story has to end and though there is a tragic element to the conclusion,it ends on a wonderful high.

'White Main' is set in the Camargue.It's the story of a rural boy and the wild horse he comes to tame and love.Again this is a world where adults aren't needed or wanted.It's a world where freedom is everything,where one might learn to grow and love,if allowed to left to just act and think without the restrictions and prejudices of grown up's.This is Peter Pan by any other name. Once again this is a beautifully shot film that goes right to the heart of what we lose when we get older-the sense of days spent without care, of discovering new things everyday and learning to find out for ourselves what is important,even if we don't always understand ,why.

Recommended to children,us older children and defiantly all students of film.These works are literally mini-masterpieces.

p.s: great remastering.
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on 10 April 2013
I loved this film for its originality and its stunning cinematography - with the camera (and the balloon) hovering over a Paris of yesteryear. It has a dreamlike quaity rarely experienced in films of that era, and the viewer is drawn immediately into the fantasy world of the young boy and his faithful balloon - and all this without a word of dialogue! Well done! What a contrast to the high-tech, animated children's films of today. Gentle and uplifting, and it leaves you wanting more.

I also enjoyed the second offering on this DVD - 'White Mane". I certainly wasn't expecting to enjoy this - a story about a boy and a horse in the Camargue - definitely not for me. However, to my surprise, although not in the same league as The Red Balloon, it was thioroughly watchable and the two films together make for a rare movie treat indeed. .
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