Mountains May Depart

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Mountains May Depart
Mountains May Depart poster.jpg
MandarinShānhé gùrén
Directed byJia Zhangke
Produced byRen Zhonglun
Nathanaël Karmitz
Liu Shiyu
Shozo Ichiyama
Written byJia Zhangke
StarringZhao Tao
Zhang Yi
Liang Jingdong
Dong Zijian
Xstream Pictures
Shanghai Film Group
Distributed bySihai Distribution Association (China)[1]
Tianjin Maoyan Media (China)[1]
Ad Vitam (France)
Release date
  • 20 May 2015 (2015-05-20) (Cannes)
  • 30 October 2015 (2015-10-30) (China)
  • 23 December 2015 (2015-12-23) (France)
  • 23 April 2016 (2016-04-23) (Japan)
Running time
131 minutes
Box officeCN¥32.22 million (China)
US$79,768 (United States)[2]

Mountains May Depart (Chinese: 山河故人) is a 2015 drama film directed by Jia Zhangke. The film is Jia's eighth feature film.[3][4] It competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[5][6] It has also been selected to be shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[7] It was released in China on 30 October 2015.[1]


The film is divided into three parts. The first part is set in the small town of Fenyang in 1999. 25-year-old shopkeeper Tao (Zhao Tao) is torn between two suitors. Jingsheng (Zhang Yi) is a well-off gas station owner whom she has little connection with but could drastically improve her material circumstances. She feels closer to Liang (Liang Jingdon), a poor laborer. When confronted by both men, Tao decides to marry Jingsheng in the hope of leaving Fenyang.

In 2014, Tao is now divorced from Jingsheng and still living in Fenyang. Jingsheng has since remarried and lives in Shanghai, and has become wealthy from investments. Liang works as a welder in a neighboring city. Most of the second act focuses on Tao and Jingsheng's son, Dollar, who comes to visit her. Tao is upset by Dollar's distance, which she acknowledges is due to their cultural differences - a product of Jingsheng's fascination with globalization. Tao, knowing they are fated to be apart, decides to ride the slow train with Dollar,instead of sending him on a plane back to Shanghai. As a parting gift, Tao makes Dollar a set of keys for her house so that he can return home whenever he wants.

In 2025, Dollar is attending college in Australia. He is constantly fighting with his father over his desire to drop out of college and have the freedom he was never granted in his childhood. He meets Mia, an older woman whom he develops feelings for and eventually begins a relationship with. Dollar shares with Mia how he still carries the keys his mother gave him when he was young, and that he fears she may die, even though they have not talked in years. Mia convinces him to fly back to China with her so that he can see Tao. The film ends with Tao dancing to "Go West." Any reunion with Dollar is not seen.



Box office[edit]

The film earned CN¥32.22 million at the Chinese box office.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Mountains May Depart holds a 79/100 average on review aggregation site Metacritic.[9] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote, "Jia Zhang-ke’s Mountains May Depart is a mysterious and in its way staggeringly ambitious piece of work from a film-maker whose creativity is evolving before our eyes."[10]

Scott Foundas of Variety states "Mountains May Depart is never less than a work of soaring ambition and deeply felt humanism, as Jia longs not so much to turn back the hands of time, but to ever so slightly slow them down."[11]

Derek Elley of Film Business Asia gave it a 5 out of 10, calling the film a "weakly written saga of friendship [that] goes way off the rails in the final part."[12]


Go West plays a prominent role in the film, as the film opens to a scene on New Year's Eve 1999 with Tao dancing to the song and closes in 2025 with a scene of Tao crying and dancing to the song near the old pagoda. In an interview with AV Club Zhangke states that he was attempting to evoke a "collective history for that generation."[14]


  1. ^ a b c d "山河故人(2015)". (in Chinese). Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Mountains May Depart". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  3. ^ "山河故人 (2015)". (in Chinese). Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  4. ^ Kevin Ma (13 February 2015). "Shanghai Film Group reveals forthcoming projects". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  5. ^ "2015 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Screenings Guide". Festival de Cannes. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Toronto to open with 'Demolition'; world premieres for 'Trumbo', 'The Program'". ScreenDaily. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  8. ^ Patrick Frater (19 May 2014). "China's Jia Zhangke Plans 'Mountains' Trek (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Mountains May Depart Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  10. ^ Peter Bradshaw (20 May 2015). "Mountains May Depart review: Jia Zhang-ke scales new heights with futurist drama". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  11. ^ Scott Foundas (19 May 2015). "Cannes Film Review: 'Mountains May Depart'". Variety. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  12. ^ Derek Elley (21 May 2015). "Mountains May Depart". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  13. ^ a b (in French) Antoine Duplan, "« Au-delà des montagnes » : l’argent ne fait pas le bonheur de la Chine", Le Temps, Tuesday 26 January 2016 (page visited on 3 February 2016).
  14. ^ Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy. "Director Jia Zhangke on technology, relationships, and Pet Shop Boys". Film. Retrieved 4 April 2018.

External links[edit]