Taking place in a ruined family compound after the war, the film tells the story of the once prosperous Dai family. The husband and patriarch, Dai Liyan (Shi Yu) is an invalid, and spends his days in the courtyard nostalgic for the past. His marriage to Zhou Yuwen (Wei Wei) has long been rendered loveless, though both still feel concern for the other. Liyan's young teenage sister Dai Xiu (Zhang Hongmei), meanwhile, is too young to remember the past, and stays cheerful and playful in the ruins of her home.
Into this dreary but unchanging existence comes Liyan's childhood friend Zhang Zhichen (Li Wei), a doctor from Shanghai and a former flame of Zhou Yuwen before she ever met her husband. The rest of the film details Zhou Yuwen's conflicting emotions between her love for Zhang, and her loyalty to her husband and his family.
Seen by many as the greatest Chinese film ever, Spring in a Small Town is different from other films of the era. In a time when most films were colored by the politics of the time, Spring in a Small Town is a story of a woman with a love dilemma.
Set in a secluded, run-down house, Spring in a Small Town is a psychological exploration of the female protagonist Zhou Yuwen and her intricate relationships...Communist historiography censured the film. Since the 1980s, however, it has been critically acclaimed as the best Chinese film of all time and a classic example of ‘Eastern’ cinema.
Chaoming Cui ... Lao Huang
Wei Li ... Zhang Zhichen
Yu Shi ... Dai Liyan
Wei Wei ... Zhou Yuwen
Hongmei Zhang ... Meimei
Director: Mu Fei
Codecs: DivX 5 / MP3
Made after the war and the so-called "Solitary Island" period of Shanghai film-making, Spring in a Small Town, unlike its leftist predecessors of the 1930s, was a more intimate affair with only tangential references to the politics of the day. Indeed, the film can be distinguished from those earlier works by its more mature treatment of inter-personal conflicts, particularly in the sense that there are no villains or antagonists except for time and circumstance. Even the husband, who ostensibly stands between Zhou Yuwen and Zhang Zhichen's love, is an inherently decent and good human being.
Unfortunately, because of this apparent lack of "political" grounding, Spring in a Small Town was rejected by the Communists as rightist or reactionary, and was quickly forgotten by those on the mainland following the Communist victory in China in 1949. Beginning in the 1980s, however, the film had a resurgance in popularity after languishing in Communist archives for several decades. Today it is considered one of the classics of Chinese film, with the Hong Kong Film Awards Association naming it the greatest Chinese film ever made in 2005. In 2002, the film was remade by Tian Zhuangzhuang as Springtime in a Small Town.
Produced in 1948 prior to the Communist takeover in China, Spring in a Small Town is a lyrical depiction of the intense psychological rivalry between two friends for the love of one woman. Directed by Fei Mu and based on a short story by Li Tianji, the film dramatizes the emotional entanglement of four people, conveying an intense eroticism that is powerful and haunting. Dai Liyan (Shi Yu), and his wife Zhou Yuwen, magnificently portrayed by the alluring Wei Wei, live in his old family house with Liyan's teenage sister, Dai Xiu (Zhang Hongmei) and the family servant Lao Huang (Cui Chaoming). Because of Liyan's tuberculosis, they are forced to sleep in separate rooms. Yuwen is a loyal and devoted wife but is bored and prefers to spend her time embroidering or going for solitary walks along the top of the crumbling city wall.
When Zhang Zhichen (Li Wei), a boyhood friend of Liyan who is now a doctor arrives from Shanghai, it is revealed that Yuwen was his childhood sweetheart when she was only sixteen. The tension becomes palpable as each character is forced to hide their true self and feelings are expressed only with glances, body language, mannerisms, and silence. Zhichen's arrival brings a spark of life to the moribund household and soon all are taking walks together, singing songs, and playing games. The relationship between Yuwen and Zhichen slowly becomes rekindled and is crystallized at Xiu's 16th birthday party when both have too much to drink. When Yuwen cuts her hand on broken glass after a struggle with Zhichen, however, a distressing event occurs that transforms everyone's life.
Spring in a Small Town has an elegance and intimacy that I found lacking in the remake last year by Tian Zhuanghuang. By depicting events from Yuwen's point of view and adding a poetic voiceover, Mu's film brings us much closer to the characters. Spring in a Small Town did not receive immediate critical acclaim when it was released and Fei Mu was labeled a "rightist" and left for Hong Kong, never to make another film. The film only began to find its audience when the China Film Archive made a new print in the early 80s. Now many Chinese critics consider it the greatest Chinese film ever made. I certainly would not argue with that.
Mature intelligent and highly charged melodrama unbelivebly filmed in China in 1948. Wei Wei's stunning performance as the catylast in a love triangle is simply stunning if you have the opportunity to see this magnificent film take it!
Xiao Chen Zhi Chun is a great movie, not only in the year it was shot but also now. It's an art movie which is not outdated even in 21st century. The director maintained a good narrative skill and thus made the story so smooth!