The Red Balloon (1956) dir. Albert Lamorisse
The Red Balloon is a classic example of magic realism. People react to the balloon, but not much differently than I think they would in reality. Most of us would just assume it seemed as though the balloon was alive, watch for a minute, and then return to our lives. Maybe snatch a minute of cell phone video to share over twitter.
Unlike contemporary vampires and wizards, the balloon is a creature of fantasy, not science fiction. No character will arrive to give a back story and explain how the balloon's consciousness is actually not mysterious at all, and that it's only been kept it secret because of the centuries of anti-balloon persecution.
The story is simple and visual. The 5 or 6 lines of dialogue are in French, and understanding the words is not necessary to understand the action. It is impossible to fully convey this story in any medium other than film.
(I remember this traumatized me as a kid. Balloons still make me anxious - their inevitable death depresses me, and the possibility of them suddenly lifting me up into the sky frightens me.)
The Red Balloon is #432 on the Top 1000 Films list I’m working on. I’ve now seen 363.