[Movie] A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

  • Title: 牯嶺街少年殺人事件
  • Directed by: Edward Yang
  • Cast: Chang Chen, Lisa Yang, Kuo-Chu Chang

A Brighter Summer Day” is an epic drama (237 minutes long) touching various aspects of the social structure and lives of individuals of the late 1950s and early 1960s in Taiwan. You can find juvenile delinquencies, gang violence and rivalry, rigid bureaucracy, the nostalgia of people in exile, a militaristic school system, a totalitarian society with secrete police, and coming-of-age envy and jealousy. The teen crime is the main plot, but the film is more about the identity crisis of Taiwanese as immigrants from mainland China.

Unlike the tile of the film, the general mood is gloomy. The film is divided into two main flows: teen gang violence and relationships with family and friends. The conflict occurs both at the level of society and an individual. Both a father and a son (Xiao Si’r) are stuck in the web of the turbulent social flow. The final violence is the result of the inability of young teens’ communication skills. Miscommunication between Si’r and Ming is overlapped with the rigid and restrictive social structure. When the father was defeated and forced to accept reality, the son had to explode with violence.

It is surprising how the film evolves through a 4-hour running time. The first impression of awkward actings of actors without a central theme was replaced with the portrait of struggles in the real world.

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