Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Summer Palace ( China, 2006 )

Language - Mandarin | Starring - Lou Ye, Guo Xiaodong | Genre - Romance | Director - Lou Ye | Country - China | Year - 2006

Last time when I tried to watch a Chinese film, I ended up by seeing a Hong Kong film, Mad Detective. Searching for a Chinese film, made in main land lead me to Summer Palace directed by Lou Ye.

The synopsis read like this ‘A romantic story in the back drop of Tiananmen Student agitation’; this line set me in watching this film. As you can see in the FilmBulb posts, most of the movies are set in war, revolution, agitation, political changes.

The other thing that caught my interest is the movie poster, which said ‘..it got great female character..’.


The film starts in a small city named Tumen. Yo Hong (Hao Lei) just finished her schooling is working in her father’ store. She has a close relationship with Xiao Jun (Cui Jin). To persuade her higher studies she moves to Beijing. Through her hostel mate Li Ti (Hu Lingling), she befriends Zhou Wei (Gua Xiaodong). As days progress the relationship between Yo Hong and Zhou Wei becomes close, both are in deep love and we get a chance to see how deep they are in some intimate scenes.

Yo Hong and Zhou Wei
When the student’s agitation is in its peak, their relationship is broken. Yo Hong moves back to Tumen. After several years, we see Yo Hong living in Wihan, Central China and Zhou Wei in Berlin, Germany. Both, normally indulging in their daily activities, satisfying their physical needs but there is a void inside them as they miss each other badly. Did they unite is the rest of the story?

Li Ti and Yo Hong
One of the great female characters in recent years

My Take

Considering the story it is a long film (140 mins.). I was expecting lots of political atmosphere, but it was limited (China, I can understand). Sexually explicit scenes containing female frontal and male rear nudity dominates, these scenes were little bit of too much, but a romantic film will always come with love making scenes.

The usage of news footage to show the time travelling is a pop idea- end of the cold war, Berlin wall, handing over of Hong Kong to China.

A video clip from Summer Palace-

Li Ti character shares almost the same screen space s as Yu Hong. When both seek for Zhou Wei’ love- Yo Hong chooses a much rational and wise decision, but Li Ti takes a different decision. Yo Hong is week by her looks, but hard mentally, while Li Ti is quite opposite.

When Washington Post said “One of the great female characters in recent years”, I couldn't agree more.


Chat Transcripts from the director' interview- Click Here.

Trailer with English Subs-

**Any comments are welcomed and if you have seen this films, let me know your views.

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