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Soundtrack Review: The Red Balloon (1956) / Le Voyage en Ballon (1960)

[by Greg Ehrbar]

There must be actors who only wish they could move audiences to tears the way the balloon did in this classic, Oscar-winning short by Albert Lamorisse. It was a staple of classrooms (where I first saw it), film festivals and children’s matinees for years before it hit home video.

Surprisingly, there was never a soundtrack album of the lilting score by Maurice La Roux. Until now, the only way one could enjoy The Red Balloon on vinyl was through a story album narrated by Lamorisse on Nonesuch Records. It was a lovely LP, but instead of the film score, there was a very pleasant and simple accompaniment with an original song.

Producer/director Bruce Kimmel managed to locate a tape made from mono acetates of the soundtrack music and had them restored and remixed by Chris Malone. The result makes soundtrack recording history. This is one very evocative score, a series of themes that have a lot to do with the impact of the film. Hearing the music independently of the visuals proves it.

Author Greg Ehrbar

(Author Greg Ehrbar)

The Red Balloon is a short film, so Kimmel filled out the new release (Kritzerland, $19.98) with a remastered version of the soundtrack to Lamorisse’s feature-length aerial experience, Le Voyage en Ballon, a score by Jean Prodromides which was originally released on Philips records.

Kimmel’s notes cover more detail than can be listed here—including a fun fact: Lamorisse also created a very well known board game that is sold to this day, in several versions. Today you can find it themed to pop culture properties like Star Wars—the strategy game, Risk.

Greg Ehrbar is a two-time Grammy-nominated and Addy-winning freelance writer/editor/producer with 30 years on staff with The Walt Disney Company and over 40 years professional writing and production experience. His work in print, network TV and online has been enjoyed by millions worldwide. Greg coauthored "Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records" (published by the University Press of Mississippi); coedited "Inside the Whimsy Works: My Life with Walt Disney Productions" by Jimmy Johnson; contributed to "The Cartoon Music Book" and adapts major films into books and has produced numerous recordings. Named "one of Disney's most trusted writers" by "Comics Guide," Greg is a recognized entertainment historian with appearances on TV, DVD, Blu-ray, the official Disney Parks Blog, animationscoop.com, cartoonresearch.com, gregOvision.com and radio's TV Confidential.

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