Hibiscus Town

Hibiscus Town

Dir/Scr: Xie Jin
Orig Story: Gu Hua
Scr: Zhong Acheng
Prod Co: Shanghai Film Studio
Cast: Liu Xiaoqing, Jiang Wen, Zheng Zaishi, Zhang Guangbei, Xu Songzi
1986 | Colour | DCP | Putonghua | Chi & Eng Subtitles | 165min

The story was divided into four parts chronologically depicting how the life of the female protagonist, Hu, was teased by different waves of movements from 1963 to 1979. Director not only adapted the main plots and dialogues in the novel, to maintain a similar experience between watching the film and reading the book, but also recreated some details to imply his interpretation, such as the scene where Li, who is promoted after the rehabilitation, meets the rehabilitated Chin on a ferry returning to the town, Chin greets Li without resentment and expresses his wish of a good life in the future; and the last scene of opportunist Wang becoming insane and showing his worries about the future.

The cinematography deploys a lot of low key lighting, as well as cold and dim tone to portray the years of struggles, which contrast the warm and delightful tone of the marriage sequence of Hu and Chin. The camera movements are slow and measured, lacking the former exaggerated melodramatic use of fast pan shots and track in shots in the previous works of the director like The Story of Cloud Mountain (1980) and Horseman (1982). This manifests his maturity and stark realism. Liu Xiaoqing, who played the female protagonist, is very capable of presenting the multifarious feelings of Hu with her transition from being wilful and hardworking to distressed and despairing during the period of tumult. Her excellent performance earned her the Golden Rooster Awards for Best Actress.

*This is a colour film

Date Time Venue
13/11/2021 (Sat) 4:30pm Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive

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