(aka 'À la recherche du ballon rouge' or 'Ballon rouge' or 'Flight of the Red Balloon' of 'Orsay' or 'The Red Balloon')

France 200


If the luscious red orb that sails through “Flight of the Red Balloon” like an airborne cherry looks as if it flew in from another movie, in some ways it did. The film, the latest wonderment from the Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien, takes as one of its inspirations Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 classic, “The Red Balloon,” about a young boy and the talismanic sphere that follows him through the gray streets of Paris like a dog, a lover, a ghost — as much a reminder of the precariousness of life as an emblem of innocence.

There is a young boy in this red balloon film too, Simon (Simon Iteanu), a moppet with sandy hair and serious eyes who lives with his mother, Suzanne (Juliette Binoche), in a tiny bourgeois-bohemian Parisian flat bursting with books and bric-a-brac. When the story opens, Simon is trying to coax the balloon into his grasp, his body straining upward as he clambers on the railing of a Métro stop at the Place de la Bastille, the site of the uprising that helped ignite the Revolution of 1789. Despite Simon’s pleading, the balloon floats away and sails past the quarter’s totemic July Column, a pillar that commemorates the Revolution of 1830 and is crowned with a golden winged male figure called the Spirit of Liberty.

Excerpt from Manohla Dargis review at the NY Times located HERE


Theatrical Release: May 17th, 2007 - Canes Film Festival

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DVD Review: IFC - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution IFC - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:55:20 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.61 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1) 
Subtitles English, English (SDH), Spanish, None

Release Information:
Studio: IFC

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: October 21st, 200
Keep Case
Chapters: 16



The IFC transfer tends to look a little green to me (which we have been told is intentional) and the single-layering doesn't bring out the best characteristics of the image for SD-DVD. In fact - this is typical of IFC's less than stellar treatment of art house film in region 1. I don't yet own the Network Region 2 PAL edition HERE, but, although, I understand it is also bare-bones (it at least has a trailer), I suspect the transferred image quality will be an improvement. We will compare as soon as we can. Some good news is that I don't see excessive digital manipulation and this image is as clean as you might expect a 2007 film-to-DVD to be.

There is an under-used 5.1 track and it presents the music of the film fairly well while all dialogue is clear and consistent. English subtitles are available (and SDH or Spanish). The single-layered DVD limitations don't take away from the magnificence of the film. A wonderful and gentle dissertation on life.

NOTE: We, now, understand the Network edition is also single-layered and bare-bones (except for a trailer). Buy the cheapest for your geographic location!

Gary W. Tooze


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Distribution IFC - Region 1 - NTSC


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