Archive of films Flight of the Red Balloon / Le voyage du ballon rouge

2007, 113 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2007

Celebrated Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao Hsien took advantage of an offer to make a film in Paris in honour of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Musée d’Orsay. In it he brings together his admiration of Paris and the discovery of a legendary film by Albert Lamorisse, The Red Balloon, with his fondness for puppet theatre. The heroine, a slightly wacky and dishevelled Suzanne, is portrayed with distinctive grace by a blonde Juliette Binoche.


Simon is seven years old. On his way through the streets of Paris he is followed all the way home by a mysterious red balloon. Simon’s mother, Suzanne (Juliette Binoche), is infatuated with puppets. She happens to be preparing a new show for a puppet theatre and is so engrossed in her creative work that she loses track of the goings-on of ordinary life. She therefore decides to take on an assistant, a Chinese student named Song Fang who is studying film in Paris and speaks good French, so that she can mind Simon and take care of the househol. Flight of the Red Balloon is the first of the movies that the management of the Paris Musée d’Orsay wants to use to commemorate its 20th anniversary. “When the people from the Musée d’Orsay said that they’d like to make a film with me, I accepted immediately, and started thinking about the project,” says director Hou Hsiao Hsien. “I met with people, I read books about Paris and about French film... and I discovered the existence of Albert Lamorisse’s film The Red Balloon.” The celebrated filmmaker thus got the opportunity to unite his discovery of the Parisian atmosphere and Lamorisse’s legendary film with his own fondness of puppetry and the various types of puppet theatre.

About the director

Hou Hsiao Hsien (b. 1947, Meixian, China) moved to Taiwan with his parents a year after he was born. After completing his studies at the film department of the Taiwanese National Academy of Art, he began his own career in cinema. During the 1980s he became internationally known thanks to his award-winning films presented at international festivals: A Time to Live, a Time to Die (FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin IFF, 1986), A City of Sadness (Golden Lion at the IFF in Venice, 1989), and In the Hands of a Puppet Master (Jury Prize at the Cannes IFF, 1993). His work develops in loose trilogies treating Taiwanese history in the 20th century through intimate testimonials and autobiographical reveries. His other distinguished films include A Summer at Grandpa’s (1984), Good Men, Good Women (1995), Flowers of Shanghai (1998), Millennium Mambo (2001, which was shown at the Karlovy Vary IFF in 2002), Café Lumière (2004, shown at the Karlovy Vary IFF in 2005), and Three Times (2005).


5 rue Nicolas Flamel, 75004, Paris
Tel: +33 153 103 399
Fax: +33 153 103 398

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Horizons
Director: Hou Hsiao Hsien
Screenplay: Hou Hsiao Hsien
Dir. of Photography: Mark Lee Ping Bing
Editor: Liao Ching Sung, Jean-Christophe Hym
Producer: François Margolin, Kristina Larsen
Production: Margo Films, Les Films du Lendemain, 3H Productions Limited
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Simon Iteanu, Song Fang, Hippolyte Girardot, Louise Margolin
Contact: Playtime


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