A City of Sadness (1989)

Hou Hsiao-Hsien breached political taboos in his Golden Lion-winning tale of a Taiwanese family in the mid-1940s.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s loose trilogy of films on Taiwan’s modern history started with this dark family saga, set in the years after Japan’s colonial rule ended in 1945. All the sons in the Lin family have trouble, none more than Wenqing (Tony Leung), an idealistic deaf-mute. Taiwan audiences flocked to a movie which overturned political censorship taboos, and Venice awarded it the Golden Lion.

1989 Taiwan
Directed by
Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Produced by
Ch'iu Fu-sheng
Written by
Wu Nien-chen, Chu T'ien-Wen
Li T'ien-lü, Ch'en Sung-yung, Gao Chieh

Ranked in The Greatest Films of All Time poll

Sight and Sound