Film Museum Wien

/ Monday, June 2 /

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What a great discovery in Wien. I can’t wait to get the annual membership. 

Right now the Film Museum is having a retrospective on Hou Hsiao-hsien. I didn’t know much about him or his native-country Taiwan, but the following has been written about him - 

"Hou Hsiao-hsien is a singular phenomenon in modern cinema: a master of elliptical storytelling, silence, concentration – and, at the same time, a national poet and chronicler whose work often deals with the blind spots in the history of his country, Taiwan. While the former characterization provides links to the "quietists" of our era such as Béla Tarr or Pedro Costa, the latter places him in a rich cinematic tradition that reaches from John Ford to certain European auteurs of the 1960s and 1970s (e.g. Fassbinder, Wajda, or Saura). In the end, however, Hou cannot be compared with any of these: he is too discreet, while also robust and grounded – even in those moments when we can sense the wind of the world's creation and destruction blowing through his works."









Movie watched: Beiqing chengshi / A City of Sadness (1989)

"In the first part of his gigantic trilogy about the history of his country, Hou told the fates of four sons and the decline of a Taiwanese family - by the end of the Japanese rule (1945) over the retreat of the Kuomintang Chinese to Taiwan, which is tantamount to a conquest, up to the popular uprising in February 1947 (a topic across touchy over decades). Cinema conventions are no matter how "historical fresco" or "Melodrama" Hou. What interests him is much more subtle and mysterious: branching and connecting lines in the flow of human life; the opposition of languages; the interaction of people and history thrusts, social forces and coincidences; the parallel between the conflict of the individual and the disruption of Taiwan's. And finally: the emerging and ending, the holes, tears of death. What amounts to life in the end?"

I thought the movie was too long - still, it transported me into another world that was in transition and small events shaping a family and a small island after occupation old and new. 

Copyright © Gaurav Monga