Albert Lamorisse, memory of the man who filmed the air | Culture | icon


A boy, a gray world and a red balloon: everything that Lamorisse's beautiful tale needs.
A boy, a gray world and a red balloon: everything that Lamorisse’s beautiful tale needs.photofest

It has just been the centenary of the inventor of the military strategy game Risk and creator of two of the most magical films in cinema history, white mane Y the red balloon. Albert Lamorisse was a genuine image poet who died prematurely in 1970 at the age of 48 in a helicopter crash in Iran. He was shooting a documentary about the country financed by Shah Reza Pahlavi. Lamorisse resolved his approach to Persian culture with a film shot only from the air and with an omnipresent narrator: the wind.

With his soul as a documentary filmmaker, the French director placed his debut film, bimm (1951), in Tunis. It was the story of a poor boy and his little donkey. Two years later, the beautiful white mane narrated in 47 minutes the friendship between a boy and a wild white horse. Her masterpiece came after three years of Crin Blanca and in an even shorter 34-minute format. At the age of five, Pascal Lamorisse became the main character in his father’s miracle film. A beautiful solitary boy dressed in gray who walked through the Parisian neighborhood of M√©nilmontant next to a mysterious incandescent globe that followed him everywhere. Victim of the envy of the other children, Pascal lost his only and precious companion. Faced with this cruel outcome, the globes of the world escaped from their owners to rescue the heartbroken child and take him with them beyond the clouds and the rooftops of Paris. An image whose powerful melancholy was revived decades later by Pixar in Up or inspired the most French film by filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

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the red balloon was awarded at Cannes and won the Oscar for best original screenplay in the same year that no less than the road Y the quintet of death. While in the US and other countries it became a popular phenomenon that was screened in schools, in Spain it remained in the redoubt of four Frenchified cats. So long before I could see it, my father, who was a wonderful storyteller, gave me the cinema before the cinema, making it almost shot by shot my favorite story every night.

The Shah of Persia did not like The wind of lovers (1978), Lamorisse’s aerial film about Iran. The Ministry of Arts and Culture, which was also behind F is for fake (1973), by Orson Welles, complained to him: the film was an evocation of Persian mythology and history through the rural world, its shepherds and farmers, but they wanted to show their most industrial and modern side. They insisted that he shoot at the Karaj dam. Lamorisse expressed his reticence and they responded by offering him all security guarantees, which included the shah’s personal pilot. Just as the filmmaker feared, on June 2, 1970, the device became entangled in electrical cables and crashed into the Karaj River. The pilot, the filmmaker and his team died. His son Pascal finished the film, which was released in 1978, a year before the Islamic Revolution. They say that in some pirate tapes there is a mysterious epilogue. Six minutes taken from what survived the accident and which, in a vain attempt to show the new Iran, has remained as his sinister farewell.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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