In the Heat of the Sun
|In the Heat of the Sun|
|Directed by||Jiang Wen|
|Produced by||Guo Youliang
|Written by||Jiang Wen
|Music by||Guo Wenjing|
|Editing by||Zhou Ying|
|Running time||134 minutes|
In the Heat of the Sun (simplified Chinese: 阳光灿烂的日子; traditional Chinese: 陽光燦爛的日子; pinyin: Yángguāng cànlàn de rìzi; literally "Days of the bright and lush sunshine") is a 1994 movie directed and written by Jiang Wen. This was Jiang Wen's first foray into directing after years as a leading man. The film is based on author Wang Shuo's novel Wild Beast (动物凶猛).
The film is set in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution. It is told from the perspective of Ma Xiaojun nicknamed Monkey (played by Xia Yu; some of Monkey's experiences mimic director Jiang's during the Revolution), who is a teenage boy at the time. Monkey and his friends are free to roam the streets of Beijing day and night because the Cultural Revolution has caused their parents and most adults to be either busy or away. Most of the story happens during one summer, so the main characters are even more free because there is no school, and revolves around Monkey's dalliances with his roguish male friends and his subsequent angst-filled crush with one of the female characters, Mi Lan (Ning Jing).
This film is significant in its unique perspective of the Cultural Revolution. Far from the Cultural Revolution-set films of Chinese 5th-generation filmmakers (Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Tian Zhuangzhuang) which puts the era behind a larger historical backdrop, In The Heat Of the Sun is mellow and dream-like, portraying memories of that era with somewhat positive and personal resonances. It also acknowledges, as the narrator recalls, that he might have misremembered parts of his adolescence as stated in the prologue: "Change has wiped out my memories. I can't tell what's imagined from what's real", as the director offers alternative or imagined versions to some events as people seek to romanticize their youthful memories.
The film was a co-production of three Chinese firms. Most of the budget, $2 million USD (about $3149977.55 when adjusted for inflation), was generated from Hong Kong. Derek Elley of Variety said that the film alters "some 70% of the original" novel and adds "a mass of personal memories."
- Han Dong - Ma Xiaojun (S: 马小军, T:馬小軍, P: Mǎ Xiǎojūn, young boy)
- Xia Yu - Ma Xiaojun (teenage Monkey)
- At the time of filming, Xia was a high school student. The character has the nickname "Monkey" in the film version. "Monkey" was the nickname of director Jiang Wen. Derek Elley of Variety says that Xia as Xiaojun has "both an uncanny resemblance to Jiang himself and a likable combination of insolence and innocence."
- Feng Xiaogang - Mr. Hu (S: 胡老师, T: 胡老師, Hú-lǎoshī), the teacher
- Geng Le - Liu Yiku (S: 刘忆苦, T: 劉憶苦, P: Liú Yìkǔ, teenage)
- Jiang Wen - Ma Xiaojun (adult; narrator)
- Ning Jing - Mi Lan (S: 米 兰, T: 米 蘭, P: Mǐ Lán)
- Tao Hong - Yu Beipei (于北蓓 Yú Běipèi)
- Shang Nan - Liu Sitian (S: 刘思甜, T:劉思甜, P: Liú Sītián)
- Wang Hai - Big Ant
- Liu Xiaoning - Liu Yiku (adult)
- Siqin Gaowa - Zhai Ru (翟 茹 Zhái Rú - Xiaojun's mother)
- Wang Xueqi - Ma Wenzhong (S: 马文中, T:馬文中, P: Mǎ Wénzhōng - Xiaojun's father)
- Fang Hua - Old general
- ? - Yang Gao (羊搞 Yáng Gǎo)
The Chinese version of the Soviet song "Moscow Nights" features prominently in the film.
Awards and recognition
Very well received in China and the Chinese-speaking world but very obscure in the United States, the film won the 51st Venice Film Festival's Best Actor Award for its young lead actor Xia Yu (Xia was then the youngest recipient of the Best Actor award at Venice) as well as the Golden Horse Film Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. American director Quentin Tarantino also gave high praises to the film, calling it "really great."
It was the first People's Republic of China film to win Best Picture in the Golden Horse Film Awards, in the very year where a liberalization act allows Chinese-language films from the mainland to participate.
- Qi Wang. "Writing Against Oblivion: Personal Filmmaking from the Forsaken Generation in Post-socialist China." (dissertation) ProQuest, 2008. ISBN 0549900683, 9780549900689. p. 149-152.
- Silbergeld, Jerome (2008), Body in Question: Image and Illusion in Two Chinese Films by Director Jiang Wen (Princeton: Princeton University Press)
- In The Heat Of The Sun at the Internet Movie Database
- In the Heat of the Sun at allmovie
- Braester, Yomi. "Memory at a standstill: 'street-smart history' in Jiang Wen's In the Heat of the Sun." Screen 42:4 Wnter 2001.
- Lu, Tonglin. "Fantasy and Ideology in a Chinese Film: A Žižekian Reading of the Cultural Revolution." Project MUSE. (pdf version)
- Williams, Louise. "Men in the Mirror : Questioning Masculine Identities in In the Heat of the Sun." China Information 2003 17: 92 doi:10.1177/0920203X0301700104. (Archive)