Ah-yuan and Ah-yun grow up together in a small mining town of Jiufen. The mining industry is in decline, and there’s no hope for the new generation. Thus, after graduating from junior high school, Ah-yuan leaves for Taipei to earn more money for his family. During daytime, he works as an appre...(Read more)
Ah-yuan and Ah-yun grow up together in a small mining town of Jiufen. The mining industry is in decline, and there’s no hope for the new generation. Thus, after graduating from junior high school, Ah-yuan leaves for Taipei to earn more money for his family. During daytime, he works as an apprentice in a printing house. At night, he attends a night school. Ah-yun also leaves for Taipei the following year to work as an assistant-seamstress in a tailor’s shop. However, living in a big city is difficult for both of them. Soon afterwards, Ah-yuan is drafted into military service. On the eve of his departure, Ah-yun gives him a special gift—1,096 self-addressed and stamped envelopes, wishing that he would write her every day during the three-year military service period. Ah-yuan in fact does write her every day, and yet Ah-yun falls in love with the postman who visits her daily. Upon hearing of Ah-yun and the postman’s wedding, Ah-yuan collapses at the army camp….
Since its release, the opening and concluding scenes of this film have become classic in Taiwan’s film history. The film opens with a train winding on the mountain rail. The train then goes through a tunnel. This opening scene invokes the metaphor of the “movie theater as a cave,” and later becomes a motif in many of Hou’s works. In the final sequence of the film, the frustrated and exhausted Ah-yuan arrives at his hometown. He is comforted by the natural landscape of his hometown, and by as grandpa’s soothing words. The film is adapted from the real love story of Nien-Jen Wu, an important screenwriter of Taiwan New Cinema. Hou’s emerging “signatory” style of long-takes, composition-in-depth, natural lighting, location shooting, and non-professional performers spins a romance with no dramatic events or even a complete story. Though Hou’s early Qiong Yao movies were successful, this film is far more than just a romantic story. In fact, it is a classic narrative of “country folks go to the city,” and a “trauma narrative.” Ah-yuan and Ah-yun’s leaving home for Taipei, and their separation as a result, are both caused by the social and economic divide between the country and the city. Indeed, the film is imbued with binary oppositions placed between the city and the country, the modern and the pre-modern, and the present and the past in narrative terms. Clearly, Hou is nostalgic for a “pre-modern” society, in which traditional families, old-fashioned male bonding, and platonic love are significant features. Hou’s affection for the lost past is in fact an implicit critique on contemporary Taiwan (that is, the 1980s) in which modernization, industrialization and urbanization transformed the structure of Taiwan society dramatically. This trauma narrative also manifests Hous’ concerns for subalterns and laborers, including miners, migrant laborers, and so on. As for the grandpa’s wise words on “natural law” in the final scene of the film: they can be seen as referring to the social inequality caused by capitalism; the inequality that has plagued Ah-yuan and Ah-yun’s life.
DVD source：Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C.
|Subtitle：||Chinese, English, French, Japanese|
|Producer：||HSU Hsin-Chih, LIN Deng-Fei, HSU Kuo-Liang|
|Actors：||WANG Chien-Wen, HSIN Shu-Fen, LI Tian-Lu, MEI Fang, YANG Li-Yin, Danny DENG|
|Screenplay：||WU Nien-Jen, CHU Tien-Wen|
|Mark LEE Ping Bin|
|Excluded for public screenings：||Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Europe|
The royalty period of this film has expired. Taiwan Cinema Toolkit could no longer authorize screenings.
Central Motion Picture Corporation
1987 Nantes Three Continents Festival, Best Cinematography, Best Score Awards
1987 Troia International Film Festival, Best Director Award
1987 Sydney Film Festival
1987 Tokyo International Film Festival
1990 Kinema Junpo Awards, Best Foreign Language Film Director Award