Sunday, January 4, 2009

subtle heroes

Are all Parisian films love letters to the city? For a lot of Flight of the Red Balloon the camera follows Simon and his nanny, Song, around Paris. The streets become familiar. Simon's mother, Suzanne, has some problems but, for the most part, she keeps them from touching Simon. The characters live ordinary lives. Throughout a lot of the film a red balloon hovers, like an all-seeing eye.
The balloon is featured in a film that Song is making. Outside of her film it also seems to stand for the way that art (or spirituality?) affects the ways that we see things. In giving extraordinary attention to the moments that make up the characters' lives the filmaker, Hou Hsiao Hsien, elevates them and makes them subtle heroes to one another. In the midst of her own stresses, Suzanne jokes with Simon as she asks him about his school day. Song freely gives her film and language skills to a needy Suzanne. People sharing their lives.

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