The Ubiquitously Red Balloon

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Piet Schreuders founded Furore in 1975, as well as De Wolkenkrabber and De Poezenkrant, Dutch magazines to explore the rare and arcane aspects of popular culture. He is also the author of Paperbacks U.S.A: A Graphic History, 1939-1959 and co-author of The Beatles London. In addition he has written about graphic design and has been the creative force between bringing the music of Hal Roach’s movie comedies to life. The latest issue of Furore #21 just rolled off the presses; an issue almost entirely devoted to detailing the numerous exterior locations used in Albert Lamorisse’s “The Red Balloon.” I asked Piet about why the balloon means so much to him.

(Furore is in Dutch but has plenty of information, maps, and images. It can be ordered here.)

Furore is a zine of eclectic interests. In the age of the web and data streams, what made you produce another issue? You are right that it might have been a web page. In fact Furore now has a web page which incorporates a blog in which I can post new information as it becomes available here.

I definitely wanted to produce a printed product because so much information nowadays is lifted from web pages (often with the best of intentions) and put on Wikipedia, where others lift it and use it for their own purposes without any credit or source. I have spent so much time and effort searching and finding these addresses, photographs, etc that I wanted to have it in print, if only for the record. This publication should be in libraries, it should be used as a resource.

“The Red Balloon” is the focus of Furore. What drew you to this theme? I have studied this film as a hobby—without any publication in mind—for many years. This started in the late 1980s with a copy of the photo book “The Red Balloon” I happened to come across. I love old photos of streets and I like to re-photograph them when I can. A set of then-and-now Red Balloon photos can be found here.

This collection grew and grew and with every discovery I was eager to find out more. Also I found that the subject is something that many people are intrigued by, especially in America, where this film was shown in elementary schools. I wasn’t aware of this before. And these people all want to know: “Where are these specific locations in Paris?” The general impression is that they are all gone, but that isn’t true at all. Even Pascal Lamorisse (the boy in the film) has no idea where these locations are.

So it became an actual project requiring lots of money and lots of man-hours. It was only three years ago that I realized it would make a perfect subject for Furore. This helped streamline the project into a familiar (for me) format. But it kept growing and growing, so this has become the largest issue to date (104 pages).

In the end not a lot of then-and-now photos ended up in Furore because they looked rather boring on the printed page. The story of the background of the filming, the filmmakers, the history of Belleville and its immigrants, the city renovations in Paris in the 1960s, the local shops, the newspapers and film posters seen in the film, it all became a jig-saw puzzle of information. How to present this as clearly as possible? That became the challenge of Furore #21.

How long does it usually take between issues of the magazine? You can’t really call it a magazine anymore. The gap between issues could be a year or it could be twelve years or… The magazine does not really exist, except in the rare moments when it does appear. And its appearance depends on whether the magazine is finished.

What’s next in your Furore life? I have absolutely no idea.

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