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Animation Wiki
Directed by Don Hertzfeldt
Written by Don Hertzfeldt
Country United States
IMDb profile

Billy's Balloon is a silent animated short film by animator Don Hertzfeldt that has won 32 awards at various film festivals around the world. The film was his last of the four animated student films he made at the University of California, in Santa Barbara. Hertzfeldt uses a minimalist stick figure technique to produce very iconic characters in a nondescript world. By submitting these characters to gratuitous abuse by seemingly innocent balloons, Hertzfeldt creates a very comedic animation about the secret lives of balloons.

In the cartoon a young child (presumbably Billy) is playing with a rattle and a balloon. For no apparent reason, the balloon takes on a life of its own and ruthlessly begins attacking Billy, hitting him, strangling him, and lifting him into the air and dropping him. The attacks and odd suspense are reminiscent of the Hitchcock film "The Birds". Eventually dozens of balloons show self-awareness, assaulting toddlers en masse. The violence might be unwatchable with more realistic characters; the iconic figuration creates a still shocking but highly comedic result. This use of iconic animation to make violence tolerable is similar to how iconic animation was later used in the TV series South Park.

Like his other work, Billy's Balloon found a new audience of millions online following its numerous theatrical runs, thanks in large part to bootlegs and viral videos. Hertzfeldt generally frowns upon the low quality these online versions provide and instead officially offers his work to fans on DVD, remastered from a high definition source.