A City of Sadness : As part of the BFI's commitment to the promotion and evaluation of contemporary cinema, and in conjunction with the influential BFI Film Classics series, BFI Modern Classics is a series of books devoted to individual films of recent years. Distinguished film critics, scholars, and novelists explore the production and reception of their chosen films in the context of an argument about the film's importance. Insightful, considered, often impassioned, these elegant, beautifully illustrated books have set the agenda for debates about matters in modern cinema.
Winner of the Golden Lion in Venice in 1989, A City of Sadness introduced Western audiences to the richness of New Taiwanese Cinema. Its director, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, is now recognized as one of the most profoundly original auteurs in contemporary cinema. A City of Sadness revisits a painful episode in recent Taiwanese history, creating an elliptical and impressionistic picture of Chiang Kai-shek's take-over of the island after the defeat of his Kuomintang army by Mao Zedong. Taiwan's politics and the suffering of its inhabitants are invoked by Hou in the story of an extended family of four brothers. The first Taiwanese film shot in direct sound, A City of Sadness echoes the forgotten voices of ordinary people facing political repression.
Berenice Reynaud deciphers the complex social and historical threads that come together in the film while analyzing its aesthetics in the context of Hou's entire career.