The Red Balloon/White Mane [Criterion Collection] [DVD]

Albert Lamorisse is best remembered for directing two of the most celebrated children's films of the 1950's, Crin Blanc (aka White Mane) and La Ballon Rouge (aka The Red Balloon), and his two best known works are paired up on this double-feature disc from Janus Films in partnership with the Criterion Collection. Both The Red Balloon and White Mane have been transferred to disc in their original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and while both have been released on home video in the past, the new transfers presented on this DVD are markedly superior to any previous edition. Edmond Sechan's Technicolor camerawork on The Red Balloon is especially impressive, with the vivid scarlet of the balloon joyously popping off the screen, while Sechan's more modest monochrome framings in White Mane look clean and sharp, and the restored prints used for these transfers are spotlessly clean. The audio for both films has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and the sound has been just as well cared for as the visuals. The sparse dialogue for both films is in French, with optional English subtitles, and viewers can choose to hear the narration for White Mane in the original French with subtitles, or in a new English-language track read by Peter Strauss. Unlike Criterion's releases, neither film includes any bonus materials, but the excellent quality of this release makes it a must for anyone with an interest in classic films for the family -- these two landmark shorts have never looked better, and it's hard to imagine the quality being improved any time soon.
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Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfers
  • English narration for White Mane spoken by actor Peter Strauss
  • New and improved English subtitle translations
  • Theatrical trailer


The Red Balloon
Most of French director Albert Lamorisse's films celebrate the miracle of flight, but few were as landmark as his 1956 short subject The Red Balloon. The story, told with a minimum of dialogue, concerns a little boy (played by the director's son Pascal) who comes across a helium-filled balloon. As he plays with his new acquisition, the boy discovers that the balloon seemingly has a mind of its own. The little red orb follows its new "master" all through the streets of Paris, then dogs the boy's trail into the schoolroom, which drives the teacher to comic distraction. Towards the end, it seems as though boy and balloon will be parted forever....but director Lamorisse has a delightful surprise in store for us. In an unusual move, The Red Balloon in its American TV premiere was introduced by Ronald Reagan as an episode of the CBS anthology G.E. Theater on April 2, 1961. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Crin Blanc
The great African American character actor Frank Silvera was afforded a rare movie starring role in the French short subject The White Mane (Crin Blanc) The title alludes to the film's actual protagonist, a courageous white stallion. Despite repeated attempts, the stallion steadfastly refuses to be captured and broken. There is a delicate fantasy element to the proceedings that might have been shattered had director Albert Lamorisse extended the film beyond its perfect 38 minutes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Pascal Lamorisse
    Pascal Lamorisse
  • Image coming soon
    Georges Sellier
  • Image coming soon
    Paul Perey
  • Image coming soon
    Sabine Lamorisse
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