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A City of Sadness

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La Cité des douleurs

A City of Sadness

(Beiqing chengshi)

by Hou Hsiao-hsien



La Cité des douleurs

Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien

Script: Chu Tien-wen, Wu Nien-jen

Cinematographer: Chen Huan-en

Editor: Liao Ching-song

Sound: Tu Duu-chih

Music: Naoki Tachikawa

Cast: Chen Soung-young, Fang Wu-yi, Nakamura Ikuyo, Tony Leung, Jack Kao

Production: 3H Films Limited

Year: 1989

35 mm, Colour, 158 min, 
OV Mandarin with English Subtitles
French Electronic Subtitles

Golden Lion Venise Film Festival 1989

In 1945, after an occupation of half a century, Japan being defeated makes restitution of Taiwan to China. General Tchang Kai-shek’s loyal supporters thrown out communist China succeed him. Through the destiny of four brothers, Hou Hsiao-hsien observes the social, cul tural and political upheavals of his country. The elder son of the family, the most conservative one, feels happy of the nationalists ‘return, as many people of his generation. He runs a bar, formerly Japanese , which he has turned into a small Shanghai. The second son, a medical doctor, disappeared in the Pacific while fighting against the Japanese army. The third son hired by the Japanese as a translator, manages to come back to Taiwan after the war. However, unable to start all over again, he makes friends with the drug and criminal underworld. The youngest son who accidently lost his hearing when he was a child, has developed a very rich sensibility and a sharp sense of justice. He has a photographic studio and meets other young intellectuals.

“I wanted to capture the atmosphere and the sensation, the feeling of each shot. The atmosphere here plays an essential role.” Hou Hsiao-hsien


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