A-yuan and A-yun are both from the small mining town of Jio-fen. They move to Taipei, where A-yuan is an apprentice by day and goes to night school, and A-yun works as a helper at a tailors. Everyone thinks they are meant for each other, and so do they. They fail to see time and fate are beyond their control.
Soon after Japan relinquishes control of Taiwan in 1945, the Lin brothers face hardships from the changing culture. Bar owner Wen-heung, the eldest brother, falls foul of local gangsters, Wen-sun disappears, and Wen-leung, scarred by his experiences in the war, ends up in an insane asylum. Deaf-mute photographer Wen-ching, the youngest brother, decides to make a stand and fight the Kuomintang government from China that is assuming power.
The first part in a new series of films produced by Musée d’Orsay, ‘Flight of the Red Balloon’ 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.