Ken Boddie

10 months ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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The Red Balloon

The Red Balloon

I was looking through the SBS streaming channel here in Oz and stumbled across a familiar looking film title.  

Could it be? 

Was it possibly? 

What the ...? 

I clicked play and, sure enough, I was transported back to my childhood in North-East Scotland's 'Silver City with the Golden Sands', Aberdeen, at the time when my cousin Roy and I (well actually 'first cousin once removed') used to frequently share our Saturday afternoons.  In summer time, we'd go swimming at the large municipal indoors Olympic pool, which was located near Holburn Junction, and also near the solid granite tenement flat that my parents rented, and where I shared a bedroom with my older brother.  In winter time, however, we'd go to the 'pictures' or the 'flics'.  That's what we used to call these moving pictures in Scotland, but, with passage of time, we learned to use the Anglified term, cinema, or later, following the Americanised slang-adopters, the 'movies'.

Back then our 'pickcher hoose' of choice was formally called the News Cinema (according to the historical records of the Evening Express, one of Aberdeen's longstanding newspapers), no doubt because it was a unique source of pictorial British and international news snippets (in black and white of course) via Pathe Pictorial and its noisily crowing cockerel emblem. We, however, called it the Cartoon Cinema, as on Saturday afternoons we'd be enthralled by such hilarious classics as 'Tom and Jerry', 'Bugs Bunny', 'Woody Woodpecker' and 'The Road Runner' (Beep! Beep!), not to forget Wile E Coyote. 

51a611a2.jpgThis cinema was later renamed the Cosmo 2 (well after I left Scotland for greener pastures) and was reportedly destroyed in a fire in the 1980s.

As it happened, most of the programmes that were shown in the News Cinema generally lasted for an hour or so, and included local interest shorts & newsreels.  They were also often played on a seemingly endless loop, so you could enter when you wished and leave when the start of what you watched came round again. 

I later found out that this was only the second cinema of its kind to be established in Scotland, and was “intended specifically to provide a diversion for those with limited time to while away.” Apparently, Ernest Bromberg owned the News Cinema back then, and he became involved in regularly showing Continental Films in the Silver City.  One of these films that we watched, as it happened, and which sticks firmly in my mind, was French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse’s seemingly script free and almost wordless 1956 film starring his son, Pascal, and a cleverly 'choreographed', almost human-like, big red balloon.  The name of the film, funnily enough, was The Red Balloon (or originally Le Ballon Rouge).

Watching this film again, after so many years, on the smaller SBS screen at home in Oz, brought back again the wonder and amazement of a Parisian boy and his 1950s surroundings, as echoed back then in Aberdeen through my then boy's eyes, the strange familiarity of solid stone buildings in a faraway 'Auld Alliance' land, and the magic of a close and familiar floating friend that doubtless helped Pascal navigate his way through otherwise incomprehensible circumstances encountered over a mere couple of days.

The film is only 34 minutes long, but I found the magic was still captivating (perhaps more so) watching it again as an adult. So, if you get the chance, seek this film out, and prepare to be enthralled and eventually ... uplifted.



a83ab9e9.jpgWhen not researching the weird or the wonderful, the comical or the cultured, the sinful or the serious, I chase my creative side, the results of which can be seen as selected photographs of my travels on my website at:

The author of the above, Ken Boddie, besides being a sometime poet and occasional writer, is an enthusiastic photographer, rarely leisure-travelling without his Canon, and loves to interact with other like-minded people with diverse interests.

Ken's three day work week (part time commitment) as a consulting engineer allows him to follow his photography interests, and to plan trips to an ever increasing list of countries and places of scenic beauty and cultural diversity.

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John Rylance

10 months ago #14

Woof Woof Thats me barking up the wrong tree as usual.

Ken Boddie

10 months ago #13

John Rylance the only creatures that benefit from eating sticks are dogs. It’s good for their bark. 🤗

John Rylance

10 months ago #12

#10 I was brought up to eat things I wasnt keen on first my reward being to then eat what I really liked. The carrot and stick approach. On that basis I needed to eat the stick first then the carrot.

Yes, of course! 😋

Ken Boddie

10 months ago #10

Hey, Franci\ud83d\udc1dEugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador, do you also pick out the red jelly beans, red Smarties and red M&Ms first?

Thanks for the tips on The Red Balloon. It won an Oscar for Best Writing, Best Screenplay in the US in 1957 and other awards in the US and France per IMDb. Red balloons were always my favorite! 🎈🎈🥳

Ken Boddie

10 months ago #8

My balloons were blue as a child, Pascal Derrien, but my life choices are now red. 🎈😀

Pascal Derrien

10 months ago #7

Thats a blast from the past !! Le Ballon Rouge is really a mystical experience and almost a rite of passage at least for people from my generation :-) I had balloons but cannot remember whether they were red or not :-)

Ken Boddie

10 months ago #6

Hey, Lada, I just found it on YouTube and watched the fIrst half again before dinner. Don’t forget to listen to the accompanying music. I found it a major part of the enjoyment. 🎈

Lada 🏡 Prkic

10 months ago #5

Good morning Ken! Here is 6:30 am, my favourite time (and only time lately) to read and comment on my social media before going to work. I really enjoyed reading this short story about how watching The Red Balloon again, after so many years, brought back the magic you experienced the first time seeing the film at the 'pictures'. :) As I write this, I'm trying to remember the films I watched and liked as a young girl that I would like to watch again. Thanks for bringing back fond memories. I'll look for some titles next weekend, and Le Ballon Rouge too. 🤗

Hmmmm Now that brings forth a cornucopia of verbose images relative to that function--let's see if I can't keep my pants dry...

Ken Boddie

10 months ago #3

Gratitude, Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee, is like weeing in your pants. Everyone can see it but only you can feel the warm sensation it brings. 😁

Thank you

Ken Boddie

10 months ago #1

Hey, Pascal Derrien, this film was shot in the Ménilmontant neighbourhood of Paris. I couldn't help but think of you, somehow, when I wrote this. Did you have a ballon rouge when you were a young lad?

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