Black and white and yellow

Director J.Lee Thompson chose to rely on our imaginations in his 1953 black and white film, The Yellow Balloon. In the setting of bombed post war London, a boy loses his pocket money and the chance of buying a balloon. Upset, he steals his friend’s yellow balloon, an incident which leads to tragedy and blackmail. Later, a manipulative gangster buys the boy a red balloon to gain his trust.

The colours of the balloons are conveyed only by words, in the title and the dialogue, the opposite of the language of film, which tells a story using pictures.


We are used to seeing old master drawings, etchings and lithographs are usually drawn in black or sepia on a cream paper, grey or off white paper, perhaps marked or discoloured with time. The have the aura and patina of age. But Gauguin’s Volpini suite is printed on a strong buttercup yellow paper. The colour instantly makes the print look modern.

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