Flight of the Red Balloon (Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge), first part in a new series of films produced by Musée d’Orsay, tells the story of a French family as seen through the eyes of a Chinese student. The film was shot in August and September 2006 on location in Paris. This is Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s first western film. It is based on the classic French short The Red Balloon directed by Albert Lamorisse. Flight of the Red Balloon is one of those movies where nothing much happens. It’s a simple, relatively peaceful film, notable in part because director Hou Hsao-Hsien is shooting outside Asia for the first time. Hou’s starting point–dictated by Paris’s Musee d’Orsay, which commissioned the film–is La Ballon Rouge, the 1956 Albert Lamorisse film about a little boy and his companion in the streets of Paris, a floating red balloon. Read More »
Tag Archives: Hsiao-Hsien Hou
Based on an 1894 novel by Han Ziyun, and starring Hong Kong film and recording star Tony Leung, Hou’s first film set outside of Taiwan takes place in the elegant brothels of late nineteenth-century Shanghai, a hermetic world with its own highly ritualized codes of behavior. It traces the destinies of the beautiful “flower girls”, whose lives depended on their ability to win, and then hold, the affections of their wealthy callers. A mesmerizing and seductive tale of sexual intrigue. Read More »
Dust in the Wind is a remarkable film, and one which will, no doubt, reward multiple viewings. Like most of the films of Hou Hsiao Hsien, viewers will be divided into two, sharply opposed camps.
The main characters in the film are two high-school students. The first is Wan, who – seeing his village as a dead-end career-wise, decides to leave their home town to go to Taipei to find work, intending to complete his education via night-school. His girlfriend Huen also leaves for Taipei after graduation. The other personages are family members, employers, friends and co-workers. Read More »
Hou’s latest film continues in a similar vein Cafe Lumiereof hermetic environment and translucently slight narrative that have come to define his later, apolitical (and largely transitional) works (beginning with The Flowers of Shanghai). Opening with the reassuringly familiar sight of the Mount Fuji Shochiku logo that can be seen at the beginning of many of Yasujiro Ozu’s films as well as a train traversing a horizon demarcated by power lines at dusk, Café Lumière then sharply diverges from Ozu’s familiar camerawork and images of Japan in the film’s inherent asymmetry, aesthetically irregular compositions, awkward angles (during the parents’ visit in Yoko’s apartment, Hou seemingly attempts an Ozu-like low angle then, faced with a troublesome, truncated image of the stepmother standing in the foreground, inexplicably pans up to reveal her face before resuming the low angle), and opaque and unengaging characters (except for Yoko’s stepmother, played by Kimiko Yo). Read More »
Lung, a former member of the national Little League team and now operator of an old-style fabric business, is never able to shake a longing for his past glory. One day, he runs into a forme teammate who is now a struggling cab driver. The two talk about old times and they are struck by a sense of loss. Lung is living with his old childhood sweetheart Ah-chin, a westernized professional woman who grew up in a traditional family. Although they live together, Ah-chin is always weary of Lung’s past liason with another girl. After an argument, Ah-chin tris to find solace by hanging out with her sister’s friends, a group of westernized, hedonistic youths. Read More »
The eldest daughter of a broken and troubled family works to keep the family together and look after her younger siblings, who are slipping into a life of crime. Read More »