I don’t know if North American kids are shown Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 short film The Red Balloon much anymore, but if not, they’re missing out: it’s 34 minutes of pure enchantment, and the closest the movies have come to capturing the dreamy, kid-friendly Paris of the Madeline and Babar books. Furthermore, it’s nearly silent, so kids don’t need to be able to read subtitles. It’s about a little boy named Pascal (Pascal Lamorisse, the director’s son) who finds the titular balloon—large, perfectly round, almost surreally red—tangled up in a lamppost. He climbs up, unties it, and quickly discovers it’s a rather willful thing, almost with a mind of its own. At one point, the boy is forced to release the balloon, but it continues to tag along after him. Even when the boy is at school, it hovers outside his classroom window, like an eager yet patient puppy. As the movie progresses, Pascal’s relationship with the balloon grows and evolves, and not always in ways you might expect. Filmed in the city’s tattered Belleville district—an area that reportedly looks very different today— The Red Balloon is like a dream of Paris, but it’s not a slick travel brochure like, say, the recent Midnight in Paris. It’s Paris as a Parisian child might see it: the brick buildings shabby yet imposing; the traffic roundabouts impossibly vast; the to-ing and fro-ing adults like a race of crabby giants. Just a few minutes spent watching it and you’re immediately transported, and not just to Paris in the 1950s but to your own childhood. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this movie even more than your kid will. You can watch the whole thing for free on YouTube, or you can order the fairly inexpensive Criterion Collection DVD, which also includes Lamorisse’s equally wondrous White Mane, about a poor country boy and his horse.