It's no secret that I tend to be a bit nostalgic--especially when it rains, and it's been a volley of drizzle and downpour all day.
I had an unusual request this morning.
There is a "bug" going around our halls, and each day we are seeing a few absences. Until today, it has not taken a teacher, but this morning our secretary told me our music teacher was home with the bug and asked me if I could think of a worthwhile "educational video" to show to three music classes. We don't typically like to "fill" with "filler" when "filling in," but with an active class like vocal music, it is sometimes the best option--especially when a great title comes to mind that is just the right length. So I searched on line and was happy to find what I was looking for here: The Red Balloon.
I was first taken as a child by this short film in 1962. It was a first at many levels: I was in first grade; it was my first "school-wide assembly" at Huron Park Grammar School in Roseville, Michigan; it was my first glimpse of Paris; it was the first time I identified so thoroughly with an on-screen character. It was in that sense that I was taken by the film.
As we made arrangements to show the film in the chapel to our vocal music classes (upper elementary, middle school, and yes, even high school), I had to wonder: would this simple film still hold an audience fifty-five years after I first enjoyed it? A lot has happened in those fifty-five years: a president was assassinated; color TV came; the internet engulfed us;the Cold War thawed; Y2K came and went, 9-11 broke our hearts, "smart phones" stole our minds, and flat TVs hang on our walls like a picture of Aunt Millie.... after so much change, could a foreign film about a boy and a balloon still capture the imagination of 21st Century kids?
The answer is yes. It did, and it made me smile to watch it happen through the chapel window.
Was it every student's favorite movie ever? Probably not. But I peeked in on each class and they were enjoying it at a quaint level not often observed nowadays. They were amused at the funny parts, and sad at the sad part, and impressed by the surprise ending when the little boy is taken as a child for the ride of his life.
The true test, I suppose, is whether or not any of the 100+ students who watched "The Red Balloon" today at Calvary Christian Schools will remember it in fifty-five years--in the year 2064--as I and many baby-boomers my age do.
One week after posting this, I saw this Mazda commercial during a Michigan football game. It is the first obvious hat-tip to this classic film that I have ever noticed in pop culture.