Flight of the Red Balloon: Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Tributeto French Classic

Le voyage du ballon rouge (Taiwan-France)

Cannes Film Fest 2007 (Opening Night, Certain Regard)–Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao Hsien’s second foray into a foreign language turf, “The Flight of the Red Balloon” (inspired by the classic 1956 French film “The Red Balloon”) is more successful than his first one, the Tokyo-set “Cafe Lumiere,” which was an artistic disappointment.

Hou’s “Cafe Lumiere” and the new work are linked thematically, dealing with the hustle and bustle of life in big metropolitan centers.  However, both lack the richer texture, more intriguing subtext, and subtler poetic mood of his more indigenous works, half of which were shown in Cannes Film Festival, including his 1998 masterpiece, “Flowers of Shanghai.”

“Flight of the Red Balloon” is the first film in a series initiated by Serge Lemoine, the president of Paris’ Musee d’Orsay, in conjunction with the museum’s 20th anniversary. The idea behind the project is to bring together contemporary artists in this case, world-class filmmakers–and the Museum’s Impressionist of Art Nouveau treasures. The terms are rather simple: The museum must be present either throughout the film, or just one scene. (Hou opts for the latter).

The above condition serves as a starting point for Hou’ new picture, which is more of a tribute to Albert Lamorrisse’s 1956 “The Red Balloon,” an half an hour film that has assumed the status of a classic in world cinema for a variety of reason. Lamorisse’s poetic film revolves around a young boy who’s affectionately followed around Paris by a mysterious red balloon.

Similarly, “Flight of Red Balloon” begins with a young boy named Simon, standing outside a subway station in Paris, talking to a red balloon in an effort to make it come down. The balloon, of course, has a will of its own, and it begins to fly very gracefully, going up and down, across Paris’ rooftops.

In the first scene, the red balloon plays a starring role, after which the director demotes it to a cameo (in a manner of speaking), with periodic appearances in the course of the narrative, sort of a reminder and more of a stylistic device. At the very last scene, the red balloon is again cast in a lead role, and the camera tracks it in a long shot that concludes the film on a lovely, nostalgic note, since it brings back memories of the old beloved movie.

Nonetheless, what was touching and engaging in the half an hour French film is extended to a full-length drama with a two-hour running time, which is a problem since the main story is slender and there’s hardly any plot to speak of.

From the red balloon, and mostly outdoor scenes, the helmer makes a rough cut to a dark interior, in which a rehearsal for a new puppet show, written and vocalized by Suzanne (Juliette Binoche, lovely as ever), who’s Simon’s mother. Suzanne is a puppeteer who uses her vocal talents to bring life to the shows that she writes.

At first, it seems that Suzanne is a woman completely absorbed in her art and career, but gradually, a routine family melodrama unfolds, centering on a single mother of two, Simon and an older sister, who went through a bad divorce and is now struggling with her multi-tasking as an artist, mother, and landlord too.

We never meet her former husband, but we get the impression that he’s not terribly involved in the children’s lives, that most of the burden falls upon Suzanne’s frail shoulders, and that in order to support herself, she rents an apartment to a young couple who lives downstairs. Overwhelmed by “the complications of modern life” (which was also the motif of “Cafe Lumiere”), Suzanne hires Song Fan (Song Fang), a young, sensitive Taiwanese film student in Paris as Simon’s nanny, to take care of his needs, pick him up from school, cook for him, oversee his piano lessons and mostly keep a companion to an inquisitive, precocious and very lonely boy.

As a screen character, Suzanne is an overly familiar type, terribly busy, easily distracted, slightly emotionally unstable, and hysterical, too. She’s a woman that, while used to be running around and dealing with daily (and hourly) crises, is also likely to burst into tears, immediately followed by laughter, and vice versa. If “Flight of the Red Balloon” had humor, the way Pedro Almodovar would have handled the same material, it could have been retitled, “Woman on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown.” But Hou plays the drama straight and serious.

Main locale is Suzanne’s small, messy, cramped apartment, which becomes like a “social salon” through which a gallery of colorful characters passes by. The young couple that live downstairs come and go as they please, and they use the tiny kitchen to cook their own meals. There’s a lovely, funny moment, when Suzanne decides to relax for a second and have tea with Song, except she can’t use the kitchen because it’s already occupied by her ungrateful tenants.

Among the other passers-by are Suzanne’s friend-lawyer, who tries to advise when the tenants stop paying rent; Simon’s piano teacher; porters who bring a new piano for Simon (and complain about physical injuries and other occupational hazards, which reps the film’s only humorous scene), and a blind guy who comes to tune in the piano. At one point, Simon is taking a piano lesson (which we only hear), while half a dozen people quite noisily come in and out of the tiny, cluttered flat.

Most disappointing is Hou’s problematic approach to the old French feature, which he obviously admires. That 1956 work was a lyrical and metaphorical film showing Paris’ ambience, and the social system of the time, with the balloon functioning as a motif representing freedom, since the protag was a boy suffering from all kinds of constraints. It’s fair to say that Hou’s film is inspired by and pays tribute to the French picture, but fails to use the balloon in any significant way, literal or symbolic.

Speaking of motifs, it may or may not be conscious, but, like Kieslowski’s “Red” (part of his “Color” trilogy, in which Juliette Binoche played the lead of the “Blue” segment), almost every scene has a red object or item in it, and in one scene Binoche sports a hot-red dress.

Hou has always been good with his mobile camera, and here, for long stretches of time, he follows Song and Simon as they walk around Paris, sit on park benches, stop at a candy store, and visit Suzanne at her puppet theater.

Hou’s reliable and talented cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bing again shows his penchant for long, often lyrical takes, trying to convey the routine rhythms of everyday life in Paris, which refreshingly are accompanied by natural sounds, street noise, traffic, people talking in coffee shops.

The gifted and versatile Binoche gives a commanding performance as the overworked mom, trying to juggle career and family with no help from her former husband. Deliberately deglamorized, everything about Binoche is careless and frazzled, from the unkempt blond hair to her wrinkled costumes. Taken to sharp mood swings, Binoche’s Suzanne is screaming one moment on the phone, graceful with the Chinese nanny a moment later, and then joyously cheerful and ultra-sensitive with Simon, trying to compensate for her neglectful conduct.

As noted above, there were conditions to this film project, and Hou fulfills them by setting the last reel within the Musee d’Orsay, where a group of children is getting quite an insightful lecture about a painting with a red balloon in cinematic terms of perspective, angle, and POV.

Hou pays tribute not only to “The Red Balloon” and French films but also to his own work and cinema in general. A film student, Song describes the 1956 film to Simon (and the audience), and she walks around with a video camera, shooting random street scenes, occasionally recording Simon’s gestures. The sequence of the Chinese puppeteer show brings to mind Hou’s own 1993 “The Puppet Master,” which won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes Festival.


Suzanne (Juliette Binoche) Simon (Simon Iteanu) Song Fang (Song Fang) Suzanne’s tenants (Hippolyte Girardot and Louise Margolin)


Running time: 115 Minutes.

A BAC Films release (in France) of a 3H Prods. (Taiwan)/Margo Films, Les Films du Lendemain (France) presentation, in co-production with Arte France Cinema, in partnership with Le Musee d’Orsay, with the support of La Region Ile de France, with the participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema, La Sofica Poste Image, Soficinema 3.

Produced by Francois Margolin, Kristina Larsen.

Directed by Hou Hsiao Hsien.

Screenplay, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Francois Margolin.

Cinematography: Mark Lee Ping Bin

Editors: Jean-Christophe Hym, Liao Ching Sung.

Music: Camille, Constance Lee.

Production designers, Paul Fayard, Hwarng Wern Ying.

Costume designer, Jean-Charline Tomlinson.

Sound: Chu Shih Yi


xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbsport.fitonbet88.oooi9bet.bizhi88.ooookvip.atf8bet.atfb88.cashvn88.cashshbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88