THE YELLOW BALLOON

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Age does strange things to a movie; features that were shocking and relevant when new tend to lose their impact over time. The Yellow Balloon is a black and white thriller of the sort that you would never see now but still as powerful today as it was back in 1953. It was the second movie to receive an X certificate and it’s easy to see why.

The Yellow Balloon is the story of innocence destroyed, produced in a time when cinema was still the principle source of dramatic entertainment. The movie begins in a light-hearted sort of way, with a young boy called Frankie wanting to go out and buy a yellow balloon. He loses his pocket money down a drain and this leads to him teasing another boy who happens to have a brightly coloured balloon. The movie takes a darker turn when an accident kills the other boy, leaving Frankie in a desperate panic.

Len, a sinister older man, see’s these events and convinces Frankie that the police will imprison him for his involvement. Len proceeds to blackmail and exploit the child for his own criminal schemes.  The events are played out across a war torn London, the urban decay highlighting the morality of the piece. 

It is a perfectly preserved example of Britain’s post-World War II cynicism. The tone is one of exhaustion and the realisation that the terrors of the everyday can hurt anyone, even the innocent.  The score is atmospheric and appropriately dark; the crashing orchestral sound highlights the simple yet horrid drama of the piece, making it all the more poignant. The performances are remarkable and well developed, though there is a surprise cameo from Sid James.

The DVD comes with a short introduction by film historian Charles Barr who helpfully explains the context of the feature and also discusses the biographies of the principle cast.

Despite its leisurely pace and rather quaint language, The Yellow Balloon is a marvellous example of movie history and worth your time.

Special Features: Introduction / Gallery

THE YELLOW BALLOON / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: J. LEE THOMPSON / SCREENPLAY: J. LEE THOMPSON, ANNE BURNABY / STARRING: ANDREW RAY, WILLIAM SYLVESTER, KATHLEEN RYAN, KENNETH MORE, BERNARD LEE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
 
 

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