A depiction of childhood maturity drawing heavily upon Hou’s own youth. Many who moved from mainland China to Taiwan in the 1940’s were unable to ever return. A Time To Live and a Time To Die focuses on the widening generation gap in a family cut off from its cultural roots.
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Filled with deep pain and high emotion and based on director Hou Hsiao-Hsien's own experiences and memories, The Time to Live and the Time to Die is a heartbreaking work that never flinches away from the hardest and saddest moments of its characters yet also celebrates their lives. Hou Hsiao-Hsien is a great filmmaker and this is a remarkable film, one that hits very close to home for nearly all.
One of the most trenchant Asian films of the 1980s. Having been given the chance to revisit it on 35mm, I can only say that this is the pinnacle of an extremely sober vision, maybe not as obviously stimulating as the later kinda-druggy vision for which Hou would become rightfully celebrated, and that the delicacy of the image stands well alongside the powerful fragility of these mortal figures in the river of time.
Absolutely extraordinary. What Hou is able to achieve here is such a seamlessly beautiful and poetic imitation of life, and it's the personal touches, the little quirks of the people we come across in the film that give it that flavour and humanity. It's deeply melancholic, the feeling of cultural disattachment and lack of identity are beautifully presented too, the jarring conflict of generations. Masterpiece. 5/5
Drama épico sobre la infancia/juventud del director. El filme se despliega como cuadro familiar, básicamente compuesto por hechos que colectivamente forman parte de un posterior aprendizaje, en este caso del director. Son hechos por entonces triviales aunque sobrecogedores, es la abuela y la herencia de la China a la que nunca volvieron, la muerte descarnada que provoca mea culpa. Un cine de reflexión personal.
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.