This intimate epic chronicles the tragedies that befall the three Lin brothers, and those around them during a chaotic period in Taiwan’s national history, between the end of Japanese Imperial rule (1945) and the secession from Mainland China and creation of martial law (1949-1987).
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some films can be called a "national cinema," a film that defines a nation--and many of them are not necessary good cinema, like "Gone With the Wind" for the US, "Les Enfants du Paradis" for France.
but for Taiwan, not only that "A City of Sadness" is a film that defines their nation, this is also truly great cinema. not so many people are that lucky--like "The Marriage of Maria Braun" for the germans.
One of my favourite subgenres - the individual submerged by the weight of history. HHH creates an intimate tragedy about the ways in which the political is always personal, and unrest in national stability often cause neglected (or sanctioned) casualties. I had minor issues (prob cultural) with recognising all characters/relationships, easily overlooked by gorgeous tableaux and Hou's epic vision.
HHH is a master in creating intimate movies about individual people that feel very epic. And Tony Leung's amazing performance makes City of Sadness stand out even more in his filmography than it already does.
Immeasurably more valid than ‘The Godfather’ but the rose-tinted Stockholm syndrome ensures it as little more than dramatist disaster porn laid on too thickly with the metaphors of disability. The iris is unmistakingly arthouse but the crux of the film unmitigatedly collapses under its own weight of excessive humanism and exploitation of tragedy, rendering it with less objectivity and sincerity than prescribed.
Una película sobre lo decadente. Es la mirada a una familia en tiempos de la represión política. Lo que inicia como un proceso de independencia, no es más que una transcisión. Hsiao-Hsien, típico de su cine, indaga en los lazos familiares. Sus conflictos no son mas que motivados por la coyuntura, una que trae carencias, violencia y miedo. Lo mejor es la austeridad temporal. De un momento a otro son años más tarde.
Beautiful film, one with such a realistic and sweeping depiction of the most tumultuous period for Taiwan as a young nation that I felt bound to the hopes and fears of the characters. The martial law years are not a topic the grandmothers and grandfathers of Taiwan are eager to discuss-- and for this reason I feel inclined to love the film all the more, knowing the quiet sorrow in which the Taiwanese endured onward.
Hou Hsiao-hsien is a great storyteller for Taiwan who pioneered in retelling stories of some very horrific an painful events that have been a taboo topic during martial law years. Instead of portraying horror and pointing blaming fingers, he took a different approach, coherent with meditative style of his filmmaking. Hou's films are an existential lament about tragedies that people face in winds of historical changes