Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan) (2006) (China)

This is the place to talk about films from around the world.

Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan) (2006) (China)

Postby hengcs » Tue May 01, 2007 10:37 am

Director: Lou Ye
Cast: Hao Lei, Guo Xiaodong

First, I would like to applaud our authority for allowing the film to be screened in its entirety, without any censorship ... *clap * ... and also, the distributor for releasing it commercially ... if i am correct, singapore is the second after france to have a commercial release (i.e., NOT incl. film festivals) ...

Now ... to the film ... it premiered in Cannes Film Festival, but became "controversial" because the director and his producer was banned from making movies for 5 years ...

The story spans over a decade and more ... starting from 1987 ... and spans across many areas within China (Tumen, Beijing, Wuhan, Beidaihe, etc) ... and even Germany (Berlin) ...

In the beginning, Yu Hong (Hao Lei) is elated over her acceptance into the university in Beijing ... She parts with her love one there and gets herself madly in love with another at Beijing, Zhou Wei (Guo Xiao dong) ... Through her story, we get to comprehend youths of that period and time ... their love, their desire, their sexual explorations, their moods, their ideals, their loss, their liberations, etc ... Rather compelling & daring are the credible performance by both leads ... coming across as "real" people on the street rather than some "renowned" actors ...

Included in the film are also real footage of historical moments such as the Tiananmen Square incident, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of former USSR, the return of Hong Kong, etc ...

It is a film whereby the audience should just sit back and be immersed into the period and mood, experiencing the lives of the youth then ... to this, i have to credit part of the music/soundtrack ... there are two or three really great ones which aptly conveys the mood ...

In essence, if you like films such as The Dreamers, Regular Lovers, and the alike, you will probably like this too ... Otherwise, you may want to skip it ... for a film about 2 hrs and 20 min, at one point, many would have thought the film has ended ... but it continues ...

Recommended, only for those who like The Dreamers and Regular Lovers, etc ... Definitely an art film, NOT a mainstream kind of film ... so, do NOT expect a lot from its plot or pacing ...

Re: Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan) (2006) (China)

Postby trevor826 » Tue May 01, 2007 11:50 am

What is the position of the film on its home turf? I would assume it's been banned.

Sounds very interesting especially against the hyperbolic costume dramas which seem to be the chief mainstay of current Chinese cinema.

Your comparison re: The Dreamers and Regular Lovers is interesting as these both tackle the same period but are poles apart in their approaches, which would be the fairer comparison?

One to look forward to if by chance it gets some sort of release in the UK.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan) (2006) (China)

Postby justindeimen » Tue May 01, 2007 2:27 pm

Courtesy of MX


Its a shame that Lou Yes Summer Palace finds its head and heart in too many places at once. Using the backdrop of Chinas bourgeoning social and political upheavals, romance and sensuality blossom and subsequently wither between Beijing students. A pensively dreary mood pervades its implicit study of contemporary Chinese history through the personal growth of Yu Hong (Hao Lei), a provincial lass who diffidently sheds that aspect of her life, including a childhood sweetheart and heads on to big city living by attending Beijing University in 1987 where she finds the rest of her life waiting.

Despite rejecting the temptation to join the spate of anti-agitprop films emanating from a new wave of Chinese directors, Lou Yes invokes the restless political zeitgeist of the era to develop his characters foray into adulthood and their complicity in its generations evolving ideals that were heedlessly being driven into disillusionment by an inability to focus its euphoric states of cataclysms. Lou endeavours to repurpose the political climate of the country with the destructive and capricious nature of human interactions and dorm room politicking.

Attempting to use these relationships to elucidate parallels between physical liberation and emotional repression, Lous directorial potency lies in the ability to craft intense and philosophically poignant sequences between his characters just through the understanding of the preceding context. He makes up for the overt pacification of his young lovers lack of emotional responses by the films explicit displays of sexuality, a trait shared by the storys ingnue, Yu, and her friends who Forrest Gump their way through crucial sociopolitical events in the 80s and 90s in China and Europe.

Its hard to distinguish Lous film from merely being an uncompromising love story and from his almost obligatory social commentary by fecklessly situating his characters turmoil with a convenient political allegory. Already drawing criticisms and repercussions from the Chinese government when the film was shown in Cannes without authorisation from his motherland, the political spotlights are already aimed at Summer Palace. It could possibly recall The Dreamers in its looming thematic concerns but unlike Bertoluccis canvassing of the vive-le-revolucin backdrop, Lou does tend to trivialise the headlong collision of ideologies between youthful expressionism so as to reaffirm his audacity in depicting the ineffable Tiananmen Square event in 89. The artifice he constructs through his milieu is only enhanced by an enchanting performance by his leading lady. Hao brings a truth and vulnerability to her role that plays on a level far above the movie itself languors in.

Re: Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan) (2006) (China)

Postby trevor826 » Tue May 01, 2007 3:19 pm

Great to have such varied opinions, I love the Forrest Gump reference btw.

Just realised, the director also made Suzhou River which I loved.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan) (2006) (China)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri May 04, 2007 4:57 am

"...if i am correct, singapore is the second after france to have a commercial release (i.e., NOT incl. film festivals) ..."

I think Summer Palace has had a release in Hong Kong also, but I'm not positive. Netherlands is coming up in a couple of weeks. It will also be distributed in Japan and the U.S.

Regarding the ban, I posted this link in the Cannes '06 thread.

Re: Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan) (2006) (China)

Postby trevor826 » Sat May 05, 2007 10:16 am

Thanks for the link, I was wondering if the ban was purely political or partially because of the sexual nature of the film.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan) (2006) (China)

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:47 pm

Summer Palace will be released on DVD by Palm Pictures (U.S.) on March 11.

Return to Film Talk

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest