Bei qing cheng shi (A City of Sadness)
Bei qing cheng shi (A City of Sadness) (1989)

Seen through the prism of the Lin family, this complex family drama from Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao Hsien details a brief but crucial moment in Taiwanese history between 1945, when 50 years of Japanese colonial rule came to an end, and… More

Directed By:
Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: September 4, 1989
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Critic Score: 100% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Richard Brody
New Yorker

The movie conveys the director's intensely personal struggle at the crossroads of large-scale history and private memory; with understatedly bitter irony, he depicts the birth of a nation at the price of a family's dissolution.

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Caryn James
New York Times

It is worth the long wait for the resonance of 'A City of Sadness to emerge.

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Senses of Cinema

A City of Sadness compassionately articulates the suppressed, silent despair of a people repeatedly victimised as they search for inclusion and cultural identification.

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Dave Kehr
Chicago Tribune

A City of Sadness is a great film, one that will be watched as long as there are people who care about the movies as an art.

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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader

Beautiful family saga by the great Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien.

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The film is so complicated that you can understand why a number of Taiwanese magazines published family trees to help viewers follow each character's story, but if you can get to grips with it this is a fascinating history lesson.

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Tony Rayns
Time Out

Hou turns in a masterpiece of small gestures and massive resonance; once you surrender to its spell, the obscurities vanish.

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David Parkinson
Radio Times

Hou Hsiao-Hsien's subtle compositions and meticulous pacing draw the viewer into the heart of the drama.

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Jeremy Heilman

An ambitiously conceived, sometimes frustratingly elliptical family chronicle that shows one family's experience immediately following the Japanese occupation of the nation.

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Flixster Audience Score: 91% Flixster User Reviews
Carlos Magalh„es
This strong and resonant historical drama has a deliberate pacing and takes a good time to shape what it wants to say and find a focus, but the waiting is more… More
Jojo Shek
This is the film that put Taiwan on the map of films. It's one of the best films ever made.