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Flight of the Red Balloon


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Product Details

  • Actors: Juliette Binoche, Hippolyte Girardot, Simon Iteanu, Fang Song, Louise Margolin
  • Directors: Hsiao-Hsien Hou
  • Writers: Hsiao-Hsien Hou, François Margolin
  • Producers: François Margolin, Kristina Larsen, Rémi Burah
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Ifc
  • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2008
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • ASIN: B001CDFY46
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,410 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Flight of the Red Balloon" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Inspired by Albert Lamorisse's classic 1956 Academy Award®-Winning short*, Flight of the Red Balloon is the latest masterwork from director Hou Hsiao Hsien (Three Times, Millennium Mambo). Expanding on the key elements of Lamorisse's short - a young boy, a red balloon and Paris - Hou weaves the tale of a boy, Simon (Simon Iteanu) dealing with the increased fragility of his loving yet preoccupied mother, Suzanne (Academy Award® - Winner Juliette Binoche** of The English Patient, Caché). When a Taiwanese film student, Song (Fang Song), is hired to help care for Simon, a unique extended family is formed - utterly dependent on each other yet lost in separate dreams mirrored by a delicate, shiny red balloon.

Customer Reviews

Just plain boring.
Adam
Languid, but lovely, the film's unique visual perspective is its selling point to a more patient audience.
K. Harris
This was one of the most irritating movies I have ever seen.
D. Boss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Daniel G. Lebryk TOP 50 REVIEWER on December 17, 2008
Format: DVD
Oh did I ever enjoy this film. It was a wonderful slow time with several characters that I thoroughly enjoyed. I write slow on purpose, to set the viewer's expectations. This film moves along at a rythm that is very particular, very deliberate, and, to me and my family, perfect. There is a subtlty here that either draws you in deeply, or pushes you far away. I can't see a middle ground with The Flight Of The Red Balloon.

Two adults, a 12 and 17 year old agree that this is a wonderful engrossing film.

The most important point about Flight is the film production. I'm certain most reviewers have missed the fact that cut to cut time averages well over 3 minutes, maybe more like 5 to 10. The shots are very long, and a lot of character development and story progress happens in each long take. Compare that to the average film shots are rarely more than 10 seconds, and long is 20 seconds. Anyone that has seen this film once, should watch the film again and pay attention to when cuts are made in the film. It's incredible the choreography that had to take place for this to work.

I felt like this was two hours spent with some wonderful people, a boy, his mother, a nanny, a neighbor, and a host of minor characters. People float in and out of this movie just as they do in real life. The story isn't resolved, just like in real life. But the path these characters follow is interesting and pleasing.

The connection with the fabulous movie Red Balloon, it's a bit tenuous. There's homage in here, that's critical to understand. It's homage in the film sense, a director does things in a similar way or uses cues that make us think of the other film. The single most important homage to me, shot length and rythm of the original Red Balloon.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ELF on July 22, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is French cinema verite, only with Juliette Binoche, who is obviously a star and not an ordinary person / non-actor as would be the case in a film true to the original genre... except in this film she seems quite like an ordinary person. I agree that the wandering red balloon appeared somewhat randomly and made no connection to the characters at times. I found this mildly, persistently frustrating when it happened, but I also kind of liked it. After all, things in real life often don't seem to connect or intersect. The performances are all amazing, it's generally in real time; the lighting is magical, with leaf-light patterns transporting me back to childhood every so often. The piano music throughout is lovely, playful, and transporting. This is an unusual, beautiful film. I think it's best to watch when you are alert and relaxed, and willing to participate a bit in making the story meaningful. A unique and wonderful thing about this film is that you feel as if you are participating, at different points.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By a gentle sound on October 25, 2009
Format: DVD
Yesterday evening this film came on the television, late.
Somehow it brought the feeling of "day" into my evening spaces and lightened fatigue, caught me with the French, and I watched.
I loved "The Red Balloon" and used to show it to students in 1st grade, my daughter in kinder saw it- and always stated it terrified her. So there was enough just in that to make me interested in an homage.
For the most part you follow a beautiful child, into his day,he's very independent, learning of his new child care taker, seeing his small apartment, the life of his mother. She voices puppets. His Maman is so beautiful, sensual, high strung a bit, struggling. His father it appears eventually has left her and she has someone living in the apartment down stairs from something he allowed-not paying- that she's got to deal with and apparently evict. And that's causing her to struggle. She's in her own world-has her share of pain, the child has his, the care taker serves as an observer. It's a kind of movie moving like the balloon did in the other -through their existence. You know what I always recall of the Red Balloon? The teasing playfulness, how it would come in and take you, float you, so I think the child in this movie, the characters, tend to come in and rather float you. It moves through music, it made me wistful this score. There wasn't the humor though, and I noticed that.

I doubt I'm capable of revealing this movie. There are very long shots of the characters just living, mostly in an apartment but escaping at times to the street, the actress Binoche reminded me of a friend Norma and her relationship as I knew it with her two children. Almost entirely I felt an observer of their life-as this is-noticing as I did here-being engaged.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne on June 7, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
***INTRODUCTION***

Hou Hsiao-hsien may be the most fearless, sophisticated, and brilliant filmmaker of the last 30 years. He's fearless because after establishing his presence with a string of late 80s/early 90s masterpieces he consciously diverted from the stylistic formalism that he had cultivated and has been changing and experimenting with each new release ever since. His sophistication lies in his complete mastery of each new style: his poetic, haiku-like images and editing, his superficial minimalism that reveals incredibly rich aesthetic and thematic depths, his ability to synthesize some of the finest quality from the best Asian directors (notably Ozu and Mizoguchi). Finally, he's brilliant because he has been able to invite comparison to these masters and hold up well (sometimes even better) under scrutiny.

His daring, sophistication, and brilliance has been especially proven in two of his 21st century films, Café Lumiere and Flight of the Red Balloon. Both found Hou in foreign countries (in the former Japan, and in the latter France) making films dedicated to a master (Ozu in Lumiere) and an enduring masterpiece (Lamorisse's Red Balloon). Both films display the tremendous versatility of Hou, and his ability to take something familiar, like Ozu's deceptively simple formalism or the touching premise of Lamorisse's fable of childhood and innocence, and elaborate on them with his own vision, and enrich them with his artistry.

In the original Red Balloon, a young boy named Pascal discovers a sentient red balloon that takes to following him about his everyday life. Everyone takes notice of this phenomenon, such as the local boys who take to tragically destroying the balloon in front of Pascal.
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