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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.

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