Sunday, May 26, 2019

Le Voyage en ballon ( 1960 ) aka Stowaway in the Sky

After the success of the award-winning short film The Red Balloon ( Le Ballon Rouge, 1956 ), French director Albert Lamorisse embarked on creating a feature-length film with a similar visual emphasis to the narrative.

Le Voyage en Ballon follows the journey of an inventor/balloonist ( André Gille ) and his stowaway grandson Pascal ( Pascal Larmorisse ) as they circle high above the skies around France. The boy is delighted to join his grandfather on his adventure and we, the audience, are able to share in this young balloonist's view of France, soaring high above Brittany, sailing along the southern coast, and traversing the Alps. 

This scenic tour of the country is reminiscent of PBS's travel series "Visions of..." which featured helicopter aerial footage of France, Italy, Germany, England, etc. accompanied by classical and regional music. 

Le Voyage en Ballon has a storyline but it is the view of France itself that takes center stage. Jean Prodromides composed a magnificent soundtrack to accompany the tour with each piece tailored to the featured location of the scenes. The segment featuring "Les grands voiliers - Goëmons" ( "The Tall Ships" ) is especially grand and the music seems to capture in its melody the rich history of the men at sea as well as the thrill that Pascal feels of seeing sailing vessels racing on the open waters. 
This little boy was director Albert Lamorisse's son Pascal. He had previously starred in Le Ballon Rouge and later, when his father was killed in a helicopter crash while filming the documentary Le Vent des amoureux ( The Lover's Wind ), Pascal and his mother completed the picture. Today, he oversees his father's film company and the restoration of his short films. 

Le Voyage en ballon also featured Maurice Baquet as Tout-Tout the mechanic, a character similar to Passepartout from Around the World in 80 Days. He is a loyal companion to the balloonists but has a tendency to get himself into mischief. 

In the United States, Le Voyage en ballon was issued as Stowaway in the Sky two years later with Jack Lemmon as narrator. Lemmon loved the picture so much that he purchased the American release rights to it. The film was beautifully filmed in Eastman color and was nominated for a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1960. 

Currently, it is not available on DVD but the English-narrated version can be found online. 


  1. A new movie to me, but I have seen THE RED BALLOON. How interesting that Jack Lemmon purchased the U.S. rights and that Pascal Lamorisse preserves his father's legacy!

  2. I just want you to know I posted a comment on the page about THE CHALK GARDEN with Hayley Mills.

  3. I wish I could find it online. YouTube just has a few short clips.

    1. This link has the version with the English narration by Jack Lemmon: