Albert Lamorisse's Classic Shorts-White Mane/The Red Balloon (1956)

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Released 3-Dec-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-My Father Was A Balloon - A film about Albert Lamorisse
Featurette-Portrait Of Alain Emery
Teaser Trailer-Director's Suite Trailers
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1956
Running Time 72:41 (Case: 74)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Albert Lamorisse

Madman Entertainment
Starring Pascal Lamorisse
Alain Emery
Laurent Roche
Francois Perie
Denys Colomb Daunant
Charles Guillaume
Alain Colomb Daunant
Sabine Lamorisse
Georges Sellier
Vladimir Popov
René Marion
Paul Perey
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Maurice Le Roux

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Although the late French director, Albert Lamorisse is best known for his short films, he also made a couple of feature films and documentaries before his untimely death in June 1970. This DVD edition showcases two of Lamorisse's best and most-loved short films on the one disc.

    Albert Lamorisse made three short fiction films in his career, starting with the 1950 film, Bim (Bim, le petit âne). However, it was his next two films that would become the most awarded and respected of his career - White Mane (Crin-Blanc) 1953 and The Red Balloon (Le Ballon rouge) in 1956. Both films are mesmerising childhood fantasies, which have captured the imagination of children and adults alike for over fifty years. Although White Mane has some narration, each story unfolds with minimal use of dialogue. In fact, I believe it would be possible to follow each story quite easily without hearing (or reading) any of the dialogue.

    White Mane (38:19) tells the story of a wild white horse called White Mane and the boy who wished to tame him. A band of ranchers chase the wild horse through bush and swamp land, but the horse continues to outsmart them each time they get close to him. Young Folco (Alain Emery) spends his time catching fish to support his family. He witnesses the ranchers failed attempts and tries to tame White Mane himself. The horse quickly accepts  Folco's genuine and caring nature. Soon the boy and horse are the best of friends. The ranchers are astonished and humiliated by their bond. They again take up the chase, unaware of a looming tragedy. White Mane won many film awards including the Grand Prize at Cannes in 1953 for Best Short Film.

    The Red Balloon (34:22) is without doubt Lamorisse's most famous work and is a true classic of French cinema. It is a multi award winning film, with prizes including the Academy Award for Best Writing, Best Original Screenplay in 1957 and the 1956 Palme d'Or at Cannes for Best Short Film. In Paris, young Pascal (Pascal Lamorisse - yes, it's Albert's son) finds a bright red balloon tied to a post. He unties the balloon and takes it with him. He soon realises that this balloon has a mind of its own. Even without Pascal holding the string, this balloon follows him everywhere. Pascal and the bright red balloon become inseparable, but a group of troublesome kids decide to separate the two and put an end to the balloon. The Red Balloon was very much a Lamorisse family film - Albert's young daughter, Sabine also has a small role, playing the girl with the blue balloon.

    As mentioned earlier, Albert's career was tragically cut short on 2nd June 1970. While in Iran producing his documentary, The Lovers' Wind (Le Vent des amoureux), Albert Lamorisse was killed in a helicopter accident. His widow and son later completed the documentary, releasing the film some eight years after his death. Lamorisse's tragic death at the relatively young age of forty-eight was a great loss to French cinema. Obviously we'll never know what lay ahead in his cinematic career, but we can be grateful for what we do have. And these two short films are two of his best works - enjoy.

    A trivial footnote: Albert Lamorisse took a break from filmmaking after completing The Red Balloon. During this hiatus, he invented the strategy board game, Risk in 1957.

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Transfer Quality


    White Mane and The Red Balloon are both presented in the correct aspect ratios of 1.33:1.They are not 16x9 enhanced.

    Both films have been transferred from a fully restored high definition source, so the degree of sharpness and clarity is quite striking. Blacks were deep and clean, with no noise issues. Shadows exhibited an excellent level of detail.

    White Mane was filmed in glorious black & white. There is an even range of greyscale tones and they are nicely balanced on the disc. However, the real stand-out on the disc is The Red Balloon. The rich display of Technicolor leaps off the screen and looks stunning. The subtle colour of Paris streets contrasts perfectly with sudden bursts of vibrant colour - it really is a delight to watch.

    There were no MPEG artefacts evident in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were not a significant issue and film artefacts were negligible. There was some very minor film grain noticed occasionally (probably inherant in the source material) and the vibrant red of the balloon appeared to bleed ever so slightly on a couple of occasions - but I must say, this is being really pedantic.

    White Mane features white English subtitles, with a fine black outline. These titles are perfect for a black and white film and are very easy to read. The Red Balloon features bold yellow English subtitles, which are also well defined and easy to read. The subtitles on each film are burned in and cannot be removed from screen.

    This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc, but I could not locate the layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two audio tracks on the DVD. White Mane - French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s) and The Red Balloon - French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono (192Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality sounded clear throughout and there were no obvious issues with audio sync.

    The original music for both films is credited to Maurice Le Roux. As there is very little dialogue in both films, these scores play an important role in conveying the story and underpinning the emotion.

    There was no surround or subwoofer activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The main menu has subtle animation, 16x9 enhancement and features a sample of The Red Balloon score.


Featurette - My Father Was A Balloon (52:02)

    This short film was made in 2008 and is a tribute to Albert Lamorisse from his son and granddaughter. Pascal Lamorisse and his daughter, Lysa retrace some of the locations used in The Red Balloon - the film that also made Pascal well-known in France (only as the young boy in the film though). Pascal recounts to Lysa his close relationship with his father and memories of working with him. From a young age through to the last day of his father's life, Pascal adored his father and it shows in this film. Many family home movies and footage from some of Lamorisse's films have been included in this fascinating piece. A couple of years ago, director, Hsiao-hsien Hou paid homage to The Red Balloon with a variation of the story in his film, Flight Of The Red Balloon (Le voyage du ballon rouge). Pascal and Lysa attend the premiere and also speak with the director and a couple of the cast members.

Featurette - Portrait Of Alain Emery (43:09)

    Out of 200-300 applicants, Alain Emery was the ten-year-old first time actor who was selected to play the role of Folco in White Mane. In this 2008 film, filmmaker, Arnaud Dommere follows the now middle-aged Alain and simply observes his life. Alain also talks about his experiences working on the film and with the people behind it.

Director's Suite Trailers

  • Early Summer (4:21)
  • Latcho Drom (2:08)
  • M. Hulot's Holiday (1:38)
  • The Major and the Minor (2:15)

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        White Mane and The Red Balloon have been released separately as part of The Criterion Collection. Like this Madman Edition, the Criterion releases have been transferred from a newly restored high definition source. However, the only extra featured on the Criterion releases is the theatrical trailer. The Criterion release of White Mane has an additional English narration by actor, Peter Strauss. Also available is a 3-disc box set from Criterion which contains the films, White Mane, The Red Balloon and Bill Mason's, Paddle to the Sea.

        While I can't directly compare the Criterion versions with the Madman, I'd say this R4 Madman Edition is the likely winner, due mainly to the inclusion of some very nice extras. I would also guess that the transfers of all these editions would be very similar in quality.

        There is also an all region UK edition of White Mane and The Red Balloon - both are presented on the one disc. This edition was released in September 2008 by Network and features no extras.


        These two short films represent the pinnacle of Albert Lamorisse's cinematic achievements. Treat your kids (and yourself) to this excellent DVD presentation. White Mane and The Red Balloon are magical childhood fantasies, made long before CGI effects became a prerequisite. They are both true classics of French cinema.

        The video and audio transfers are of high quality.

        The selection of extras is very good, complimenting this outstanding DVD presentation.



  • Ratings (out of 5)


    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Friday, May 29, 2009
    Review Equipment
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    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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