Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge

So I'm watching the Sundance Channel last week and come across a movie called "The Flight of the Red Balloon." The title intrigued me because I immediately thought of the classic French film "The Red Balloon" that I had seen in high school.

"The Flight of the Red Balloon" is only vaguely inspired by the original, but what they have in common is a little boy, a red balloon and Paris. That was enough for me.

I loved the film. It was in French with English subtitles, which was great for me because I'm learning French and it helped me with the language. Ooh La La!

The Story: Suzanne and her son Simon live in Paris. She is a single mother who works as an actor in a puppet theatre. She hires Song, a young Taiwanese film student as a nanny for Simon. The movie presents the every day life of the characters and how they relate to each other. There is no major conflict or dramatic moment. The story is mostly about the harried life of Suzanne and the affection between her and her son, and also between Song and Simon and between Song and Suzanne. (Notice that all their names are an alliteration?)

The strong points in the film are the cinematography and the visual metaphors. The color red is a theme and I had much fun looking for "red" in the images. The balloon itself was a minor character and didn't appear very often. But when it did, it was compelling and drew you in. The visuals were stunning throughout.

There were very long takes, which was fascinating to watch. It's really amazing when you can see a scene in a film played out that way with no interruptions. It gives the actor time to develop the scene and see what they can do with it.

I enjoyed the scenes of the puppet theatre. The dialog of the puppet story related to the story of the characters.

If you're in the mood for a deep, reflective film experience, and not in a hurry for "something to happen," and if you enjoy lovely cinematography -- and Paris -- then you will be impressed with this film, as I was.


  1. This was my FAVORITE movie as a kid. We watched it every year in elementary school back in the days where they wheeled the actual movie projector into the classroom. We'd all yell "BA -LOON" out on the playground and try to jump into the sky.

  2. Like Leslie, I too saw the original more than once in school - it was most likely the first foreign film I ever watched. I'm not sure why they tied themselves (like a balloon?) to the older movie so much if it had so little to do with it - why do you think they did that, Luana?

  3. Leslie: I guess every kid in school had to watch The Red Balloon. There's something about it that just touches your spirit. I remember being intrigued by it. I didn't understand the words, but it's a movie that didnt' really need words.

  4. Craig: Good question. I don't really have an answer. Perhaps they wanted to capture the magic of the first film without turning it into a remake...