Spring in a Small Town (1948)

Fei Mu's 1948 masterpiece, a piercingly poignant study of adulterous desire, was once voted the greatest Chinese film ever made.

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Film details

  • Featuring

    Wei Wei Yu Shi Li Wei

  • Director

    Fei Mu

  • Country

    People's Republic of China

  • Year

    1948

  • Genre

    Romance

  • Type

    Film

  • Category

    Fiction

Alternative titles

  • Xiao Cheng Zhi Chun Original
  • Springtime in a Small Town Alternative
  • Xiaocheng Zhi Chun Alternative

Introduction

Regarded as the finest work from the first great era of Chinese filmmaking, Fei Mu’s quiet, piercingly poignant study of adulterous desire and guilt-ridden despair is a remarkable film.

After eight years of marriage to Liyan – once rich but now sickly and almost suicidally apathetic following a long, ruinous war – Yuwen does little except deliver his daily medication. A surprise visit from Liyan’s friend Zhang re-energises the household, the invalid included. Liyan’s young sister is not alone in her excitement over the much-travelled guest; Yuwen knew him before her marriage… Eliciting a great performance from Wei Wei as Yuwen, whose wistful voiceover offers insights into her conflicted feelings, Fei creates a tense, sensual chamberwork steeped in suspicion and suppressed longing, deep resentments and half-spoken truths.

The deft use of locations, dissolves and camera movements makes for a fraught, febrile mood of hesitant passion, entrapment and ennui; sophisticated cinematically and psychologically, the film eschews sentimentality for something far more beguiling.

Cast & Credits

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The Greatest Films of All Time 2012

Voted for by 13 critics and 3 directors.

See who voted for Spring in a Small Town
 

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