A Brighter Summer Day

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A Brighter Summer Day
A Brighter Summer Day (movie poster).jpg
Film poster
Directed by Edward Yang
Produced by Yu Weiyan Yang
Written by Hung Hung
Lai Mingtang
Alex Yang
Edward Yang
Starring Chang Chen
Lisa Yang
Chang Kuo-Chu
Elaine Jin
Cinematography Huigong Li
Longyu Zhang
Edited by Bo-Wen Chen
Yang & His Gang Filmmakers
Jane Balfour Films
Distributed by Cine Qua Non Films
Release dates
  • July 27, 1991 (1991-07-27)
Running time
237 minutes
Country Taiwan
Language Mandarin
Taiwanese Hokkien

A Brighter Summer Day (Chinese: 牯嶺街少年殺人事件 Gǔ lǐng jiē shàonián shārén shìjiàn, "The Murder Incident of the Boy on Guling Street") is a 1991 Taiwanese drama film directed by Edward Yang. The film is an extraordinarily large project for a Chinese-language film, not only for its duration of almost four hours, but also for its involvement of more than 100 amateur actors in different roles. The title is derived from the lyrics of Elvis Presley's "Are You Lonesome Tonight?". The film was selected as the Taiwanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 64th Academy Awards but was not nominated.[1]

The film depicts a great array of political and existential themes such as the need of guidance during adolescence, the loss of Taiwan’s cultural identity in favour of the growingly influential Western culture, the unrestrained violence caused by an uneasy socio-political juncture, the desire of migrating towards an expectedly better country, the hardships of parenthood, the awkwardly naive and sometimes dangerous way in which teenagers convey love and sex, the downside of multi-faceted friendship, the strained differences between social classes forced coexist in the same dismal place, and, especially, the fatal and irreversible consequences of an aimless life and a confused upbringing.



  • Chang Chen as Xiao Si'r
  • Chang Kuo-Chu as Xiao Si'r's father
  • Elaine Jin as Xiao Si'r's mother
  • Lisa Yang as Ming
  • Wong Chizan as Cat
  • Lawrence Ko as Airplane
  • Tan Zhigang as Ma
  • Lin Hongming as Honey


Set in early 1960s, in Taipei, the film is based on a real incident that the director remembers from his school days when he was 13.[2] The original Chinese title, 牯嶺街少年殺人事件, translates literally as "The Murder Incident of the Boy on Guling Street", referring to the 14-year-old son of a civil servant who murders his girlfriend, who was also involved with a teenaged gang leader, for unclear reasons. The gang leader and girlfriend are involved in the conflict between gangs of children of formerly-mainland families and those of Taiwanese families. The film places the murder incident in the context of the political environment in Taiwan at that time. The film's political background is introduced in intertitles thus:

Millions of Mainland Chinese fled to Taiwan with the National Government after its civil war defeat by the Chinese Communists in 1949. Their children were brought up in an uneasy atmosphere created by the parents' own uncertainty about the future. Many formed street gangs to search for identity and to strengthen their sense of security.[3]

Chang Kuo-Chu, and his son Chang Chen (in his debut) are both cast in this film.

In 2009, the World Cinema Foundation issued a restoration of 'A Brighter Summer Day', using the original 35mm camera and sound negatives provided by the Edward Yang Estate. [4]

On December 17, 2015, the Criterion Collection announced the official release of a new 4K digital restoration of the film in its original running time. The release will include a new English subtitle translation, an audio commentary featuring critic Tony Rayns, an interview with actor Chen Chang (who plays the main character Xiao Si'r); Our Time, Our Story, a 117-minute documentary from 2002 about the New Taiwan Cinema movement, featuring interviews with Yang and film-makers Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang, among others; a videotaped performance of director Edward Yang’s 1992 play Likely Consequence; an essay by critic Godfrey Cheshire, and a 1991 director’s statement by Yang.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received much critical acclaim and was awarded several wins in Golden Horse Film Festival, Asia Pacific Film Festival, Kinema Junpo Awards and Tokyo International Film Festival. Three different versions of the film were edited: the original 237 minute version, a three-hour version and a shorter 127 minute version.[2]

A Brighter Summer Day is ranked number 89 in the prestigious list They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?, making it one of the most recent entries in the top 100, a position presumed to rise after the release of the new digital restoration.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  2. ^ a b GULING JIE SHAONIAN SHA REN SHIJIAN Review (in English) by Nick James
  3. ^ Anderson, John (2005). Edward Yang. ISBN 0-252-07236-7
  4. ^ A Brighter Summer Day: Restored in 2009 by the World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory, Central Motion Pictures Corporation and Digimax laboratory in Taipei. http://worldcinemafoundation.org/films/summer
  5. ^ Official Criterion Collection release https://www.criterion.com/films/28596-a-brighter-summer-day
  6. ^ http://www.theyshootpictures.com/gf1000_all1000films_table.php

External links[edit]