The Red Balloon


This past Thursday and Friday, I showed the short film, The Red Balloon, to my students. We have a copy of the video in our media center, and in the interest of arts integration, I decided that my students should be exposed to an art film. The Red Balloon is perfect, because it is only 34 minutes long, it’s in color, and it shows a lot of Paris life.

It is also the perfect length -right after the showing, the students can get in a good 35 minutes on Rosetta Stone.

In case you don’t know what the film is about, it’s the story of a lonely little boy living in Paris in the 50’s. He apparently has no friends or family – maybe just his grandmother – until he finds this red balloon. The balloon becomes his friend and follows him everywhere. Isn’t that the perfect thing to show a bunch of jaded middle-schoolers? It’s magical!

Of course, I love to make fun of the Red Balloon – and I was able to have a little fun with the film. First, I told my students that if they had a hard time relating to a balloon, to pretend it’s a puppy. Of course, some of my kids have no sense of humor or imagination, so I often got the comment, “But puppies can’t fly!” Okaaaay then.

Later on, toward the end of the film, it might be better to pretend that the balloon is an I-Pod.

Some of my students spent some time analyzing how they got the “balloon” to move – since this was filmed before digital technology. Others – like many unwanted movie-goers, decided that their comments were more interesting than the movie. Okay, MY comments add to the movie. Comments like, “they’re gay!” do not.

It’s no wonder there is such a need for Arts Integration in the classroom! Some students are really short on imagination!

Oh, while researching The Red Balloon, I came up with a reference to an episode of Malcolm in the Middle called Water Park.  Here is the episode description:

When the family goes to a water park for the day, Dewey is left at home with an elderly stern baby sitter that he ends up bonding with. After they dance around the kitchen, she has to be taken away in an ambulance, and Dewey goes chasing after a red balloon being carried by the wind. 

I considered showing this episode to my students, and even thought some of them might know of it.  Unfortunately, many of my students were 4 years old when that debuted!


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