Hibiscus Town

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Hibiscus Town
Furongzhenposter.jpg
Traditional 芙蓉鎮
Simplified 芙蓉镇
Mandarin Fúróng zhèn
Directed by Xie Jin
Written by Ah Cheng
Xie Jin
Based on Hibiscus Town 
by Gu Hua
Starring Jiang Wen
Liu Xiaoqing
Music by Ge Yan
Cinematography Lu Junfu
Production
company
Release dates
  • 1986 (1986)
Running time
164 minutes
Country China
Language Mandarin

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.

The film won Best Film for 1987 Golden Rooster Awards and Hundred Flowers Awards, as well as Best Actress awards for Liu Xiaoqing at both ceremonies.

Cast[edit]

Plot[edit]

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.

Reception[edit]

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.

Gilbert Adair of Time Out magazine gave the film his endorsement, calling it "a potent blend of the political and personal":

"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."[1]

Awards[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.timeout.com/london/film/hibiscus-town. Retrieved on March 20, 2015.
  2. ^ Marion, Donald J. (1997). The Chinese Filmography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0786403055. 

External links[edit]