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Thanks to restoration, a children’s classic rises again

WHEN Pascal Lamorisse was a child, he got to run around Paris followed by a magical red balloon.

“I enjoyed it,” recalls Lamorisse. “I was playing with magic.”

Now 57, Lamorisse will forever be known as the little boy who encounters the enchanted object in the 1956 Oscar and Cannes award-winning short film “The Red Balloon,” which was written and directed by his father, Albert Lamorisse.

Pascal Lamorisse, who has run his father’s company since Alfred’s death in a helicopter crash in 1970, has restored his father’s beloved children’s film, which was shot in vibrant Technicolor, as well as his Cannes award-winning 1953 family short “White Mane.”

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The films, which are traveling around the country, will arrive at the Nuart Theatre on Nov. 23 for a six-day engagement.

“I supervised the restoration entirely,” he says. “I love music and I love images, and movies combine both. And I wanted to get the colors right for ‘The Red Balloon.’ ”

The bright red balloon, says Lamorisse, “was really that color when we shot the movie. In fact, it is not a red ballon that you can buy, it was especially made for the film. It’s glossy and reflects the kid’s face and the city. It was actually varnished.”

So how did the balloon follow the little boy like a family pet around the City of Light?

“Very thin strings,” says Lamorisse.

Because his father wrote his films as the shooting progressed, Lamorisse says that every day was an adventure.

“He didn’t’ give me direction,” he adds. “I knew what I had to do, but I could do it my way. It was very easy to play whatever he asked me to do.”

Lamorisse says he had “a wonderful youth.” His father, who was only 48 when he died, was “extremely creative and very sweet. Actually, he could relate to the world of the younger generation in the sense that he lived in a very poetical world himself.”

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His father had rules, though -- no cheating or lying.

But Lamorisse did lie once to his father when he was about 4.

“There was a book about Tibet, and for some reason I was in love with a photo from the book,” he recalls. “I got my scissors and I cut it out and put the photo in my room someplace.

“One day he goes, ‘Pascal, did you use the scissors and cut anything out of the book?’ I said, ‘Of course not.’ He said, ‘Well, well, well. I have good reason to believe that you did it. You should have asked me, and I would have given it to you.’ I realized I couldn’t lie to him. He could understand more than most people.

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“And I still have the book!”

-- Susan.King@latimes.com

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‘THE RED BALLOON'/'WHITE MANE’

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WHERE: Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica

WHEN: Nov. 23 to 29

PRICE: $9.50 to $7.25

INFO: (310) 281-8223, landmarktheatres.com

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