|Directed by||Xie Jin|
|Written by||Ah Cheng
|Based on||Hibiscus Town
by Gu Hua
|Music by||Ge Yan|
Hibiscus Town (simplified Chinese: 芙蓉镇; traditional Chinese: 芙蓉鎮; pinyin: Fúróng zhèn) is a 1986 Chinese film directed by Xie Jin, based on a novel by the same name written by Gu Hua. The film, a melodrama, follows the life and travails of a young woman who lives through the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution and as such is an example of the "scar drama" genre that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s that detailed life during that period. The film was produced by the Shanghai Film Studio.
- Liu Xiaoqing as Hu Yuyin, the film's heroine, a young woman who is caught up in the political turmoil of China's Cultural Revolution. She originally sells rice beancurd with her husband.
- Liu Linian as Li Guigui, Yuyin's first husband
- Jiang Wen as Qin Shutian, a "bourgeoisie" rightist who falls in love with Yuyin
- Zheng Zaishi as Gu Yanshan, the granary director
- Zhu Shibin as Wang Qiushe
- Xu Songzi as Li Guoxiang
- Zhang Guangbei as Li Mangeng
The film follows Hu Yuyin (Liu Xiaoqing), a young and hardworking woman in a small Chinese town on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. She is happily married and runs a successful roadside food stall selling spicy beancurd. Yuyin is supported by Party members Li Mangeng (Zhang Guangbei), who once wanted to marry her, and Director Gu (Zheng Zaishi), a war veteran in charge of the granary. But in 1964 the Four Cleanups Movement sends a Party work-team to root out Rightists and capitalist roaders. The team is led by Li Guoxiang (Xu Songzi), a single woman, assisted by Wang Qiushe (Zhu Shibin), a former poor peasant who has lost his land because of his drinking. At a public struggle session, Yuyin is declared to be a "new rich peasant." Both her home and business are taken from her and her husband, Li Guigui (Liu Linian) is executed for trying to kill Li Guoxiang.
After the first waves of the Revolution have ended, Yuyin returns to the town, now relegated to a lowly street sweeper. She then falls in love with Qin Shutian (Jiang Wen), who had come in the 1950s to collect local folksongs but was declared to be one of the Five Black Categories. When Yuyin becomes pregnant, however, this loving relationship attracts the outrage of Li Guoxiang and Wang Qiushe, who themselves are having a secret affair. Shutian is sent to reform through labor and it is not until Deng Xiaoping's reforms in 1978 that his case is reviewed and he is allowed to return and help Yuyin re-establish their food stall. At the end of the film, Li Guoxiang continues to hold a position in the bureaucracy while Wang Qiushe loses his mind.
The film was very well received domestically and was voted by Chinese film audiences as one of the three best films of 1987. It remains however quite obscure outside China.
- "Xie's portrait of China's traumatic, turbulent history ranges from '63 to the post-'Gang of Four' years, his palette the changing fortunes of an entangled group of individuals. It's impressive both for the elegant precision with which the director fills his scope frame with small, significant details, and for the discreet understatement that controls his own special brand of epic melodrama. In some ways similar to the classic romances of Frank Borzage, Hibiscus Town is a moving account of survival in the face of widespread social and political madness, told with clarity, compassion and insight."
- Golden Rooster Awards, 1987
- Hundred Flowers Awards, 1987
- Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, 1988
- Browne, Nick. "Society and Subjectivity: On the Political Economy of Chinese Melodrama," in New Chinese Cinemas: Forms, Identities, Politics. Cambridge: CUP, 1994, 57-87.
- Hayford, Charles W. "Hibiscus Town: Revolution, Love and Bean Curd." In Chris Berry, ed., Chinese Films in Focus: 25 New Takes. London: BFI Publishing, 2003, 120-27.
- Kipnis, Andrew. "Anti-Maoist Gender: Hibiscus Town's Naturalization of a Dengist Sex/Gender/Kinship System." Asian Cinema 8, 2 (Winter 1996-97): 66-75.
- Cultural Revolution- background of the film
- Hibiscus Town at the Internet Movie Database
- Hibiscus Town at AllMovie
- Hibiscus Town article from China.org
- Hibiscus Town from the Chinese Movie Database
- Overview and questions of Hibiscus Town from Ohio State University