My husband caught a film the other night on Netflix that he wanted us to watch. It was called The Red Balloon. Many of you may have heard of it. It won numerous awards in 1956, the year it came out.
I'm not entirely sure what to make of the film. I'm still processing it. It was short (around 30 minutes) and had few words (French, subtitled in English). It seemed, in fact, to be a childrens' book translated to film. But my immediate reaction when watching it was, "Where are the parents, for goodness sake?!?"
The film followed the adventures of a little boy (six, tops) and his balloon, which we quickly learned had magical qualities. The balloon was able to follow the boy at will, all over town. The amazing thing, however, was that the boy navigated the streets and alleys of Paris by himself. A parent (or grandparent) and a school official appeared only to scold the boy for not behaving properly. Otherwise, the boy was left to fend for himself. Ironically, the balloon was more interested in the boy than the adults in the film. It followed him, played with him, escaped trouble with him...(until the end, which I won't give away).
As a parent of a pre-adolescent, the relationship between the boy and the adults in his life hit a nerve. They say children are sometimes invisible to us adults. I am positive it works the other way around. Adults are definitely invisible to children as well. And sometimes for good reason. We appear only to scold. We don't take the time to play, to follow wordlessly, to cuddle, to praise.
So does it matter where the parents were in this film? No. Does it matter if there are no adults in our books? Mostly, no. Sometimes adults get in the way.