Under the Hawthorn Tree (film)

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Under the Hawthorn Tree
Under the Hawthorn Tree Film Poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byZhang Yimou
Produced byZhang Weiping, Cao Yuayi, Hugo Shong, Bill Kong
Written byYin Lichuan, Gu Xiaobai
Based onHawthorn Tree Forever
by Ai Mi
StarringZhou Dongyu, Shawn Dou
Music byQigang Chen
CinematographyZhao Xiaoding
Edited byMeng Peicong
Distributed byEdko Films Ltd.
Release date
  • 15 September 2010 (2010-09-15)
Running time
114 minutes
Box office¥148 million (China)

Under the Hawthorn Tree (simplified Chinese: 山楂树之恋; traditional Chinese: 山楂樹之戀; pinyin: Shānzhāshù Zhī Liàn) is 2010 Chinese film directed by Zhang Yimou. It was adapted from the popular 2007 novel Hawthorn Tree Forever by Ai Mi, which was based on a true story set during the Cultural Revolution.[1] The film was released in Mainland China (September 2010), Hong Kong (November 2010) and in Singapore (February 2011).


Set during the end of China's Cultural Revolution in a small village in Yichang City, Hubei Province, China, this film is about a pure love that develops between a beautiful high school student, Zhang Jing Qiu, and a handsome young prospector named Lao San. Jing Qiu is one of the "educated youth" sent to be "re-educated" through work in the countryside under a directive from Chairman Mao Zedong.

She arrives with a group in Xiping village, in the Yangtze River's Three Gorges region, where they are shown a hawthorn tree called the Tree of Heroes which was reputedly nourished by the blood of Chinese martyrs executed by the Japanese during World War II. Jing Qiu is lodged with the family of village head, where she meets geology student Sun Jianxin (nicknamed Lao San), who also takes his meals at Zhang's home, and she's drawn to his responsible and honorable character.[2]

Lao San's father held a high position in the military, but his mother committed suicide four years ago after being branded as a "rightist". Jing Qiu's father was also a political prisoner somewhere in China and her mother, branded as a "capitalist", was reduced to menial work to support their family. Following the political persecution of her father, Jing Qiu lived with her mother and little siblings, working towards becoming a teacher to support her family.[3]

Despite the fact that this could endanger the future of Jing Qiu and her family, Jing Qiu and Lao San fell in love and their relationship continues the following year. Lao San also promised to wait for her until she grew up. Jing Qiu was torn between her feelings for Lao San and her filial duty to her family.[4]

However, Lao San later developed leukemia and forced himself to leave Jing Qiu. Jing Qiu, without knowing about Lao San's deadly disease, was only reunited with him when he was dying in hospital. The film closed with Jing Qiu tearfully calling the unconscious Lao San, repeatedly saying "I am Jing Qiu, I am Jing Qiu." [5]




This film is based on the novel Hawthorn Tree Forever which was written by renowned author Aimi and it was inspired by the real-life story of her friend, Jing. Zhang Yimou decided to bring the story to the big screen after being moved by the novel.[6]


The film debuted in the 15th Busan International Film Festival on 7 October 2010. It was then released in Mainland China on 15 September 2010 and in Hong Kong on 11 November 2010. It was also released on 10 February 2011 in Singapore cinemas.[7]


Critical reception[edit]

My Paper said that "Dou and Zhou bring a touching believability to this tale of young love" and rated this film 3.5 stars.[1] Pusan International Film Festival website stated that "He renders it as something now tainted under the weight of age and ever-changing worlds. In an unbelievably delicate observance... Zhang expresses his view of innocence in a soft, almost feminine, approach. Also ... he successfully draws enticing portrayals of innocence from Zhou Dongyu and Dou Xiao. ... Zhang Yimou appears to reclaim his own innocence as a youthful creator. "[3] Kaori Shoji of The Japan Times gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, and describes it as a "tearjerker aims for the heart".[8]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed ¥148 million in China.[9]

Film festivals[edit]

Film Festival Date of ceremony Category Participants/Recipients Result
15th Busan International Film Festival[3] 7–15 October 2010 Opening Film (International Premiere) Under the Hawthorn Tree Participant
30th Hawaii International Film Festival[10] 14–24 October 2010 Opening Night Film Under the Hawthorn Tree Participant
7th Hong Kong Asian Film Festival 8 November 2010 Closing Film Under the Hawthorn Tree Participant
61st Berlin International Film Festival[11] 10–20 February 2011 New Generation Under the Hawthorn Tree Participant
5th Asian Film Awards[12] 21 March 2011 Best Newcomer Zhou Dongyu Nominated
Best Editing Meng Peicong Nominated
16th International Film Festival of Kerala[3] 9–16 December 2011 Opening Film Under the Hawthorn Tree Participant


  1. ^ a b Chan, Boon (10 February 2011). "Review: Under the hawthorn tree". Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. mypaper. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  2. ^ Elley, Derek (27 September 2010). "Under the Hawthorn Tree (山楂樹之戀)". Film Business Asia Limited. Film Business Asia. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Ji-seok, Kim. "Under the Hawthorn Tree Program Note". Pusan International Film Festival. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  4. ^ "inSing movies". SingTel Digital Media Pte Ltd. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Zhang Yimou's "Under The Hawthorn Tree" trailer debut". CNTV.cn. Xinhua News Agency. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Golden Village movies". Golden Village Multiplex Pte Ltd. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  7. ^ "Yahoo! Singapore movies". Yahoo! Southeast Asia Pte Ltd. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  8. ^ http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ff20110715a3.html
  9. ^ Kevin Ma (28 April 2014). "Iceman frozen by Classmate at China B.O." Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  10. ^ "Hawaii International Film Festival". Hawaii International Film Festival, Christopher Hall. Retrieved 2011-03-05.
  11. ^ "kino-zeit". kino-zeit.de (in German). 11 February 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  12. ^ "5th AFA Nominees by Film". asianfilmawards.asia. Archived from the original on 4 December 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2011.

External links[edit]