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Springtime In A Small Town [2003] [DVD]

Jingfan Hu , Jun Wu , Zhuangzhuang Tian    Parental Guidance   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £7.67 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Springtime In A Small Town [2003] [DVD] + Balzac & The Little Chinese Seamstress [DVD] [2003] + Together With You [DVD] [2003]
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Product details

  • Actors: Jingfan Hu, Jun Wu, Bai Qing Xin, Xiao Keng Ye, Si Si Lu
  • Directors: Zhuangzhuang Tian
  • Format: PAL, Widescreen
  • Language: Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • DVD Release Date: 27 Oct 2003
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000C665K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,344 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

An exquisitely constructed romantic drama, Springtime in a Small Town is the first film by Tian Zhuangzhuang since the controversial The Blue Kite in 1993. Set in a bomb-scarred Chinese town in the aftermath of World War II, the film tells the story of the passionless marriage of the ailing Liyan and his beautiful wife Yuwen. Their lives are disturbed by the arrival of Liyan's old school friend, Zhichen, a cultivated doctor from Shanghai, who was also the teenage love of Yuwen. Despite their attempts to conceal their emotions, Yuwen and Zhichen find that their feelings for each other are re-ignited and, eventually, secrecy and jealousy take their toll on all concerned. Beautifully photographed and delicately played by an outstanding cast, Springtime in a Small Town is a haunting, sensual and long overdue return to filmmaking from one of China's finest directors.


"Beautifully acted, exquisitely considered, spellbindingly tender, utterly involving" -- The Guardian

"Fabulous filmmaking … the performances are a miracle" -- Financial Times

"Stunning … a Chinese masterpiece" -- The Times

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch it! 28 Nov 2005
I just wanted to add a comment because I think this film deserves so much more attention!I liked this film. It is very quiet and slow but there is this tension from between the woman and her husbands friend (and her former boyfriend), and the emotions expressed more through the acting and not so much through words. You can't help but feel for all the characters.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful film 15 Aug 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a slow paced film, but one in which the pace perfectly fits the mood. The husband is slightly irritating in his self-indulgence, but it is still easy to empathise with hi as well as the other characters. The wife provides subtle - and less subtle- glimpses into what lies beneath the surface; the fun she longs for a seeks in her ex-lover. The film also engenders a good deal of tension as the story unfolds. Well worth taking the time to watch.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good things come in small packages 29 Feb 2004
Originality is a hard thing to come by nowadays with many American blockbusters basing real life incidents into the films albeit with minor alterations. All re-makes are given a different look because of the new Directors attitude to the base of the film and upon watching the documentary that accompanies the film it's interesting to hear Tians views on such matters. On to the film, it's very good. Indeed, it's excellent. The acting is superb so much so that the absence of music easier to accept. As with a lot of Chinese films the budget isn't so big but this works well here as the director uses intimacy to get his point across (it is a love story after all) and the narrow surroundings give the atmosphere a cosy, intimate atmosphere. This film is one for romantics everywhere that's not to say it's a chick flick mind.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lovely, but ... 5 April 2006
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Lovely, particulary the scenes and use of lighting, but the story goes a little bit dull and adds very little to the old story of love and search for happiness.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars mesmerizing human drama 18 July 2005
By Roland E. Zwick - Published on Amazon.com
Set in the days immediately following World War II, the Chinese film "Springtime in a Small Town" is a poetic, slow-moving meditation on the part that love, passion, compromise, self-sacrifice and renewal play in our lives and our relationships.

Liyan and Yuwen are a young married couple living in the crumbling ancestral home of the man's deceased parents. Struggling under the burden of an arranged marriage, Liyan and Yuwen have been drifting farther and farther apart over time - he obsessing over his chronic health problems (possibly psychosomatic in nature) and she secretly yearning for a more fulfilling life away from this man who seems not to care for her. Then one day, Zhang, an old boyhood pal of Liyan's, comes to pay a visit. Now a doctor, Zhang is shocked to discover that Liyan's wife is Yuwen, the very woman whom he loved but left ten years earlier. Tensions very quickly develop in the household as Zhang and Yuwen begin to take steps towards rekindling their romance - forcing each of the three individuals to come to terms with long unresolved desires and emotions.

In its quiet, subtle way, "Springtime in a Small Town" explores what happens when human emotions and passions are repressed under the weight of societal restrictions and cultural traditions. Writer Cheng Ah and director Zhuangzhuang Tian unfold their story slowly, never feeling the need to rev up the action or overemphasize a detail to make a point. The film establishes a hypnotic rhythm and a tone of quiet contemplation from the outset, allowing us to soak in all that is happening on the screen at our own leisure. For despite the fact that there may not SEEM to be a lot happening in the film, there is actually a wealth of human drama taking place right beneath the placid surface of the tale. These are characters whose every word, every gesture reveals some aspect of the universal human condition. To heighten the intimacy of the piece, Ah and Tian have circumscribed their canvas so that only five people even make an appearance in the film (Liyan's teenaged sister and an aged family servant are the movie's other two characters). "Canvas" is indeed the operative word here, for Tian has treated this film much like he would a painting, capturing his characters in stark tableau often set against strikingly beautiful natural landscapes. The camera glides along at an unhurried pace, helping to draw us into this strangely beautiful world where seething human passions play themselves out in settings. The filmmakers also deserve credit for providing a remarkably ambiguous ending. We really aren't quite sure how we are supposed to react at the end of the movie and that is as it should be when it comes to art.

The lovely Jingfan Hu is both heartbreaking and not a little frightening as the normally composed young woman who may not be quite as sweet and submissive as she appears to be on the surface. The shots of her strolling through the countryside in all her placid, regal beauty are haunting and memorable in their exquisiteness. Jun Wu as Liyan and Bai Qing Xin as Zhang also give excellent performances, never allowing their strong feelings to rise much above the level of a whisper. Liyan is a particularly fascinating character in that we get the sense that he may be using his "illness" as a means of avoiding the responsibilities and pressures of being a true husband to his wife. The power struggle that develops among the three of them is devastating in its understatement and subtlety.

There`s no denying that "Springtime in a Small Town" demands a certain amount of patience from the viewer. But anyone who opens himself up to the beauty of its images and the truth of its observations will find it to be a profoundly rewarding experience well worth the time and patience.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty and Meaning in Simplicity 15 Feb 2005
By Steve Koss - Published on Amazon.com
Tian Zhuangzhuang, director of THE BLUE KITE, pays homage to the founders of Chinese cinema in this marvelous remake of a 1940's classic. SPRINGTIME IN A SMALL TOWN is an intensely personal tale of loss and ruin, alienation and suppressed desire in the period shortly after the Japanese invasion has been repelled.

The story line is starkly simple. Zhang Zhichen, a young doctor, arrives to visit his former classmate Dai Liyan whom he hasn't seen for ten years. Zhang discovers that he was formerly neighbors with Dai's wife, Yu Wen. Yu Wen is completely estranged from her husband - they can barely look at one another, let alone make physical contact or show affection. Zhang's appearance in her home causes Yu Wen's to realize what she has lost in her life and sparks her desire for almost any expression of warmth and human emotion. She attempts to seduce Zhang, but he rejects her advances. Meanwhile, Dai recognizes the suffering he has caused his wife and takes an overdose of sleeping pills in order to free her.

Tian paints a minimalist portrait of here, so slight it could as easily be a theatrical performance as cinema. The entire cast consists of just five characters - Dai, Yu, Zhang, Dai's 16-year-old sister, and the family's elderly servant, Huang. Outside the house on the streets, along the country paths, and on the nearby canals, not a soul is seen for the entire movie, as if the entire world had died except these five people. Although the Dai family home survived the Japanese bombardment (through a fortuitous rainfall), the aging house lays in partial ruin, and the surrounding neighborhood is filled with crumbling walls and demolished homes. The scene is nothing if not post-apocalyptic. Yet in the nearby countryside, we see gauzy and sensuous vistas of natural beauty. Life lies beyond these ruins.

Like spring, however, hope rises even from amidst the ruins. In this case, hope comes from the positive and progressive spirit of Zhang and the childlike enthusiasm and vitality of Dai Liyan's little sister, Dai Xiu. The arrival of Dai Xiu's 16th birthday, her uninhibited singing during a canal boat outing, and the prospect of her departure for further schooling in Shanghai signal a brighter future. By movie's end, signs of life are everywhere, from budding trees to bright canal waters to the return of Yu to her pastime of embroidering by the window, in the fresh sunlight. At the same time, we sense that husband and wife will forever be captives in their ancient home, resigned to life together yet tragically apart, a life without love or children. They will live out the dead past, while the future moves on from these ruins to Shanghai and beyond.

For those who relish a mature and thoughtful treatment of human relationships and the meaning of ill-fated loss, SPRINGTIME IN A SMALL TOWN is stunningly beautiful in its simplicity. It is a movie that plumbs great depths of human emotion as it examines the desiccated remnants of a ruined life in a ruined world, even as it offers the prospect of a better tomorrow
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Must Believe In "Spring" 7 Feb 2005
By Alex Udvary - Published on Amazon.com
"Springtime in a Small Town" is director Tian Zhuangzhuang's first film in 10 years after being banned when his film "The Blue Kite" was released. "Kite" told a political story, here with "Springtime" Zhuangzhuang plays it safe by remaking the 1948 film "Spring in a Small Town". A post WW2 love story.

But, don't think the film is really all that simple. Lurking behind the scenes is a story that, in a subtle way, challenges in social customs of the times.

Zhang Zhichen (Bai Qing) and Yuwen (Hu Jing Fan) were childhood sweathearts, but, there was no matchmaker involved so the two could never get married. Then war broke out.

10 years have passed and now Yuwen is married to Dai Liyan (Wu Jun). Though things are not going well. Liyan is sick and the marriage is now a loveless one. That is to say if these two were ever in love to begin with.

Zhichen enters both of their lives again as he knows Liyan. Both Liyan doesn't know the past wife and Zhichen share.

The movie is beautifully told. The cinematography captures a tenderness to the story. And Zhuangzhuang displays his terrific eye as a director. The script manages to avoid several cliches that would have appeared if this were an American film. In which case it would have been a overly sentimental WW2 story. Think "Waterloo Bridge".

"Springtime in a Small Town" is really more than just a love story, although if as you watch it you see nothing more, that's fine, the story still works as an old-fashion love triangle.

Bottom-line: Not as emotionally involving as Zhuangzhuang's last film, it is still a lovely told story dealing with social customs and regrets of the past and regrets that are still to come.
3.0 out of 5 stars Springtime in a small town 10 Oct 2012
By Jonas Gunnarsson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Beautiful photo. A story that was told slowly. Should be enjoyed in a quiet setting much like you enjoy a long drink watching the sun set. I wasn't necessarily happy with the resolution of the situation in the story but that's life. Not always easy. See it attentively and you'll see how it grows on you.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine, Sensitive film. Certainly not an action flick, however. 30 Jun 2010
By Laird M. Wilcox - Published on Amazon.com
This film of a post-World War II love triangle is very sensitive, well-acted and provides a fascinating insight into Chinese character and customs. It is a very slow-developing drama and takes patience to see it through. An American film of essentially the same story could have been done in 30 minutes. It can also be described as a conservative and virtually non-erotic chick flick that ends fairly well in spite of some sadness. If you like serious Chinese films this is one you should watch. It's also a very good period film with realistic sets, costumes and lighting. Dinner with kerosene lanterns for light actually looks authentic.
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