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The poor PQ of A Brighter Summer Day LD

A Brighter Summer Day (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

$7.79


The Terrorisers (1986), A Brighter Summer Day (1991), Yi Yi (2000)

Inspired by films like about teenage outsiders, and narratively tethered to a love of rebellious American icons like Elvis Presley, Edward Yang's A Brighter Summer Day nonetheless inverts Western narrative trends by broadening its focus beyond individuals, to home in on the wider social forces that shape their lives. Budding couple Si'r (Chen Chang) and Ming (Lisa Yang) are at the center of the film, yet their feelings and frustrations are sublimated into larger conflicting dynamics of family, street gangs, and Taiwan's nationalist government. These influences contextualize the inherent restlessness of the film's young characters and their search for identity, confounding any easy interpretation of their delinquency.

Early in A Brighter Summer Day, we learn that millions of Chinese have fled from the mainland to Taiwan with the Nationalist government after defeat by Chinese Communists in 1949, pushing many children to join street gangs as a means of identity and security. This is a key point, as, for four slow-burning hours (every moment seemingly imperative), an existential identity crisis of a massive emigration emerges.

The Terrorisers and A Brighter Summer Day



French poster
Back to A Brighter Summer Day (1991)
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Japanese poster
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Back to A Brighter Summer Day (1991)
Go to Edward Yang Movie Posters, Poster Gallery and Chinese Movie Poster Store

A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang, 1991).

In this backward-looking respect, A Brighter Summer Day is an anomaly for Yang. It marks the midpoint of his career, both temporally (halfway into his 18-year-spanning career in feature films) and numerically (the fourth of seven completed features). It’s the only one of his films to be set in the past: unlike Hou, Yang was a director of Taipei’s present, tracing intricate narratives about young, middle-class workers and their devastations, sourced to a large degree in their inability to adapt their learned cultural traditions to the new norms of modern capitalism. In his three 1980s features, this kind of conflict is the subject of dark drama, usually ending in arbitrary and despairing death. His post-A Brighter Summer Day work is lighter and warmer in tone, though no less marked by violence. Mahjong, his greatest film, depicts modern gangster youths, who, after all their humiliations and violent outbursts against an emasculating and increasingly exploitative world, find a grace note of romanticism and hope for the future. Yi yi updates the family dynamic to the turn of the century, with each member of Wu Nien-jen’s household wandering off on their own quests for fulfillment. There’s still a horrible inexplicable crime, at its heart, but rather than obsessively focus on its origins, on the network of causes and conditions that might explain its occurrence, in Yi yi the crime is a tangent, a thing that happens to the neighbors, the lives of whom we catch glimpses of but for the most part don’t even notice.

Among the most praised and sought-after titles in all contemporary film, this singular masterpiece of Taiwanese cinema, directed by Edward Yang, finally comes to home video in the United States. Set in the early sixties in Taiwan, A Brighter Summer Day is based on the true story of a crime that rocked the nation. A film of both sprawling scope and tender intimacy, this novelistic, patiently observed epic centers on the gradual, inexorable fall of a young teenager (Chen Chang, in his first role) from innocence to juvenile delinquency, and is set against a simmering backdrop of restless youth, rock and roll, and political turmoil.