White Mane / The Red Balloon (1953/56, Albert Lamorisse)

The Landmark theater of course played these Academy-ratio films in widescreen, ho-hum.

WHITE MANE, b/w, boy who lives on the marshes in southern France with his father and little brother (played by director’s son / star of Red Balloon) loves a wild horse, wants to capture it. Nearby ranchers also want to capture it. After a chase, boy rides the horse into the river and floats away, swept out to sea.

RED BALLOON, bright color, boy finds balloon which magically follows him around the city. Adults conspire to keep him away from his balloon, and other kids want to steal and destroy it. When the kids are successful, balloons from all over the city fly over and lift the kid up over Paris.

Jimmy says both movies are about the perils of acquisition. Both have somewhat the same ending… the kid getting (more or less) what he’d desired, a sense of freedom and imminent danger.

The two won a bunch of awards at Cannes, and Red Balloon got an original screenplay Oscar beating out The Ladykillers and La Strada. Remarkable for a movie with almost no dialogue. The two share excellent camerawork and primitive post-synched sound. I haven’t heard of anything else by photographer Edmond Séchan. Lamorisse made some other lesser-known children’s movies, including the earlier “Bim” and a widescreen Red Balloon sequel “Stowaway in the Sky”. The documentary he was filming over Iran when he died in an accident got an Oscar nomination after its completion. Best of all, he invented the board game RISK in ’57.