For the inaugural post on the Red Balloon Films blog I thought it might be appropriate to discuss the name.

Albert Lamorisse's 1956 film, Le Ballon Rouge, is an important film for me and my philosophies on filmmaking. It's not just the story of the film that is important, but it is its implied filmmaking ideology. This layer of the film was discussed extensively by André Bazin in What is Cinema. Realism, Bazin argues, is the unique ability of film. Photography can only re-create a foreign space, without the dimension of time. Theater can construct both a space and time, but it can do so only under complete artifice. Furthermore, it is a space and time where the viewer is already present. Sculpture and painting, like photography, present us with an object that communicates using space (image) but it has no element of time. Cinema, on the other hand, uses both space and time to tell its stories. Moreover, it uses a real space and time captured somewhere else (unlike theater) that can then be re-presented to an audience millions of miles away and even years later.

Back to Lamorisse's film. Bazin uses this film as a case study in a director using cinema's unique attribute of realism to tell a story.  Bazin points out that Lamorisse uses editing only sparingly. Instead, many of the scenes use realism to tell the story. By realism Bazin means using the entire scenario, the mise en sne. In the clip below, notice how the balloon following the boy is shown in one take and within one frame. Lamorisse uses a spatial and temporal reality to tell us the story of a boy and his supernatural companionship with a balloon.

 

Lamorisse could have communicated this same message in a different way, however. Using editing Lamorisse could have shot the boy walking down the sidewalk and then rounding a corner. Cut. Then, he could have shot a red balloon, by itself in a frame, being pulled in the same direction around a corner. By then editing these two images together the implied story is that the balloon is following the boy. But, is this using film in a way that celebrates its unique ability? Could you not also take two still photographs and show them in sequence to communicate the same thing? It is cinema's unique ability to capture a foreign reality. That unique ability is what filmmaker should utilize in telling their stories. Watching the balloon follow the boy is pure cinema.

Bazin's charge has stuck with me and since then I am driven by the idea of pure cinema. Movies that are completely and utterly cinematic.

I promise that not every post here will be so dreadfully serious and academic. But, in order to explain the origin of the name we had to go there. In fact, I hope for this blog to be a place where I can share things I find in the wide wide world of web, things that are important and relevant to the current state of art and entertainment.

-scg