Hou Xiaoxian’s overwhelmingly moving film is at least 70% autobiographical: these are remembered scenes from his own mischievous childhood and near-delinquent adolescence, and the fact that he speaks the opening and closing voice-overs himself confirms the intimacy and candour of the memories. But this is also the story of an entire generation, the generation of Mainland Chinese who settled in Taiwan in the late 1940s and then found themselves unable to return home after the Communist victory of 1949. A story then, of displaced persons and displaced emotions, in which traditional family bonds suffer the pressures of exile and social change and begin to crack under the strain. It’s a story never before told on film, and certainly never visualised in images of such measured warmth and beauty. There’s no doubt that this is one of the finest Chinese movies ever made. —Tony Rayns
Director Hou Hsiao Hsien, in a 1988 New York Film Festival World Critics Poll, was voted one of three directors who would most likely shape cinema in the coming decades. He has since become one of the most respected, influential directors working in cinema today. In spite of his international renown, his films have focused exclusively on his native Taiwan, offering finely textured human dramas that deal with the subtleties of family relationships against the backdrop of the island’s turbulent, often bloody history. All of his movies deal in some manner with questions of personal and national identity, particularly, “What does it mean to be Taiwanese?” In a country that has been colonized first by the Japanese and then by Chiang Kai-Shek’s repressive Nationalist Government, this question is pregnant with political connotations.
Hou was born to a member of the Hakka ethnic minority in southern Guangdong province in mainland China, but his parents emigrated to Kaohsiung, Taiwan… read more
Works as a companion piece to Yang's A Brighter Summer Day. Approaches similar material and setting in a slightly different fashion: fragments of the past, memories of good and bad, haunt the fictionalized Hou. Elegantly captures the fragility and unpredictability of life. Really strong conclusion.
Contrasting Yang’s synonymous Brighter Summer Day, Hou’s personal coming-of-age sharing a milieu of Taiwanese diaspora recounts a tenderer, wistful recollection, often keeping its collective longings subdued, in a show of its close-knit compact and the solidarity in such bonds. Its shift to adolescence brings a muted focus, but one steadfast: of languish and acceptance, which, with its proficient framing and graceful touch, see its essence upheld. Without understating its worth: a pleasant reacquaintance.
Simply one of the best (Chinese) films with a very universal and touching story about life.
"To anyone who was immersed in the fervent cinématheque culture of the immediate post-Salazar era in Portugal, the four films that Ant