A Time to Live and a Time to Die

Tongnian Wangshi

Hou Hsiao-hsienTaiwan137 minutes1985PGColourMandarin Min Nan

Aug 20
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    An eloquent autobiographical work filmed in the rural village where the director grew up, Hou Hsiao-hsien's A Time to Live and a Time to Die is 'Hou's first genuine masterpiece' (Phillip Lopate). Spanning the years 1947 to 1965, Time pays homage to Hou's father, who moved his family from the mainland to Taiwan during the Chinese civil war and spent the rest of his short life longing for the home he could never return to. Adhering to the everyday, Hou accrues delicate observations and moments of loss and regret (the mother's admission of her disappointment in life reminds one of Ozu's Tokyo Story); the final sequences, culminating in a frontal frieze of four apprehensive boys, transforms childhood remembrance into elegy. 'A spectacular triumph without anything of the "spectacular" about it.... This is filmmaking on the very highest level' (Derek Malcolm, The Guardian).