Although there are entire franchises made about cars, the movie industry doesn’t explore other methods of transport quite as much. The action of dogfights in jets and even spaceships or flying superheroes seem to have mass appeal while the hot air balloon sits quietly in the back. Despite this there are a few films that slip through the net where the balloon is a key feature, here are a handful.
The Wizard of Oz
Though it may not be a huge part of the plot, this legendary fantasy has a hot air balloon as a key part of the story. Remember that Dorothy ends up in Oz after a crazy storm whisks here there in a tornado, later on when she meets the real wizard, he reveals that he got to Oz in his hot air balloon and is capable of using it to return to Kansas. The hot air balloon here is shown as a device capable off whisking you away to faraway lands without having to hitch a ride in a disastrous weather event. This is shown even more clearly in the prequel – The Great and Powerful Oz.
Though it is the sequel to 20,000 leagues under the sea this novel turned movie is not about the ocean but in fact taking to the skies. As prisoners of war band together to escape their captors they choose a much different getaway vehicle – a hot air balloon. Once again, this method of sky cruising transport takes the characters somewhere unexpected as they find themselves a strange island with even stranger creatures. Though it may not have delivered them to the best places, the hot air balloon saved them from a grave situation.
Around the World in 80 Days
Likely one of the most well known and beloved stories of hot air balloon travel. This is the tale of adventurer Phineas Fogg who makes a wager that he can travel the entire globe in just 80 days and sets off in none other than a hot air balloon. This story has captured the minds of millions over the years and was remade in 2004 by Disney studios with a family friendly and fun cast that includes Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan. This film makes clear that even in the 19th Century the balloon was still admired as a device and was the gateway to many possibilities.
A far more recent outing this one, premiering at Telluride at the end of October this adventure starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne focuses solely on the flight in a hot air balloon. Set in 1862, a meteorologist and a pilot team up to discover more about the weather by flying their hot air balloon higher than ever before. Inspired by true events this story of danger and excitement is as intense as it is visually enticing.
Pixar’s colourful house attached to a rainbow of endless balloons is now iconic. Although this story isn’t about a real hot air balloon it seeks to answer the question many of us have asked ourselves about helium balloons and what would happen if we got enough of them together. The story here (like many early Disney films) begins dark but opens into a colour rich and delightful adventure that is difficult not to love.