Le Ballon rouge 08’39” © 1956 Films Montsouris
Le Ballon rouge 08’39” © 1956 Films Montsouris


Le Ballon rouge 08’39” © 1956 Films Montsouris

The morning scene in The Red Balloon is illustrated by a baker opening up his shop, a glass salesman advertising his wares and a postman delivering letters. These scenes were all filmed in the rue Piat, Belleville. The postman walks along a walkway (passerelle) at the back of 21 rue Piat, as described in detail in Furore #21, page 51. The walkway was often used by photographers as it offered a good view of Belleville’s picturesque backyards and rooftops, particularly the rue Vilin. The atmosphere is upbeat, pastoral, village-like.

La crise du logement 03’00” © 1956 OKA Films

Jean Dewever’s propaganda film La crise du logement , made that same year, contains a shot taken at almost the same angle. The context here is utterly pessimistic, however: a voice-over informs us that hundreds of thousands of homes in Paris pose a deathly risk to their occupants by their very structure. We’re informed that the “rational reconstruction” of the old Paris necessitates the razing of these health hazards.

View from Rue Piat © 2010 Piet Schreuders

We all know where that led to: an “espace vert”, a nice, airy, green, sterile open space.


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