However, Hou Hsai-hsien has used the concept of the red balloon in the context of modern day Paris. Hou Hsai-hsien’s film seems to underline the change in the perception of childhood since the 1950s. The little boy Pascal (The Red Balloon) and Simon (Flight of the Red Balloon) live two different types of life set apart by the time to which they belong. Their childhood too seems to be suffering from the whims of the adult world. The red balloon that connects both the films and gives the feel of continuity is the only representation of a child’s free spirit and imagination.
Albert Lamorisse in his film The Red Balloon portrays childhood as a fairytale world where a child’s dream comes true. The big and bright red balloon brings variation in the otherwise monotonous life of Pascal. Lamorisse seems to stress upon the fact that childhood often gets lost in the attempt of making children live under strict routine. Pascal breaks free from the mechanical life with getting the balloon. He tries to shield it and protect it from the violence of nature and the human world. It seems as though he is trying to keep his imagination away from the clutches of harsh reality and live in his own imaginative world. The red balloon which stands for a child’s fantasy and boundless imagination follows Pascal everywhere. This sense of dependence and attachment that they bear for each other indicates the child’s love for his own imaginative world. But finally reality takes over as the older boys out of jealousy and the pleasure of bullying him steal his red balloon and pelt stones at it. The conclusion of the film is made unique and full of optimism as Lamorisse does not project the death of a child’s imagination but by setting Pascal on a flight with the colorful balloons triggers childhood fancy.
Hou Hsai-hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon treats the red balloon as the icon of childhood