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Spring in a Small Town

7 customer reviews

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(May 08, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

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.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Chaoming Cui, Wei Li, Yu Shi, Wei Wei, Hongmei Zhang
  • Directors: Mu Fei
  • Writers: Tianji Li
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Cinema Epoch
  • DVD Release Date: May 8, 2007
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NDFI74
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,319 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spring in a Small Town" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ron Houghton on August 22, 2007
Format: DVD
I think the other reviews were far too kind in regard to the quality presented here. This is a pretty lousy print with jumps,scratches, blackouts, audible snap/crackle/pop's throughout the soundtrack. I'd been waiting a long time to see this picture and did enjoy it. Like most Chinese films it is a simple story told extremely well. So if this is the only edition available It'll have to do, but this film does deserve better
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DocCaligari on October 13, 2013
Format: DVD
This is a review of Spring in a Small Town (1948), a film that has been hailed as the greatest Chinese film of all time. The first thing I noticed was the language. Even with my rudimentary command of Chinese, I could follow most of the dialogue even without the subtitles. This reflects the fact that the film focuses on quotidian details of everyday life: going for a walk, commenting on the weather, making a bed. But in these details is a moving story with deep significance for a Chinese audience. The film is slow-moving and subtle. One reviewer here on compared the style to that of Bergmann, but a friend of mine compared it to Yasujiro OZU (Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) [1953]), which I think is more appropriate.

There are only five characters in the story. Liyan is the "Young Master" of the household. He is sick with tuberculosis, and perpetually irritable. Yuwen is his wife, the narrator of the story. She is strong, beautiful, and passionate. However, she feels trapped in her existence. As she says at one point, "I do not have the courage to die, and Liyan does not have the courage to live." The other members of the household are the one remaining servant, Lao Huang, and Liyan's sister, who is usually referred to as Meimei. (This is really a title, "Younger Sister," and not a name.) A fifth character soon arrives, throwing the house out of its entropy: Zhichen. He is the best friend of Liyan from childhood, but he does not realize until he arrives that Liyan's wife is Yuwen, with whom he was in love before the war.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Concerned About Movies on May 13, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am writing this from the perspective of a Westerner who has no knowledge of the Chinese language and has been to China only once (although rather recently).

"Spring in a Small Town" is, for the most part, subtly acted, written, and directed and is not afraid to use symbolism when appropriate. Because it uses a limited number of interior sets for most of the story, it gave me the feeling I was watching a stage play that had been expanded for the screen. Although I found the story to be engaging, I sometimes felt as though I was watching an Ingmar Bergman film (which is not bad). Indeed, the production owes much more to the influences of European filmmakers than to Hollywood, and there is a sort of Scandivavian languor in the way the story is told and developed.

On the negative side, the print is mediocre and the soundtrack, which seems to disappear in a few places, often contains a hum. The English subtitles, which frequently race by so quickly that they can be only partially read, are often, obviously, incorrectly translated. (One of many examples of this is when Zhou Yuwen tells her husband to, "Go back to bed", when he is already in bed. I suspect the correct translation should have been, "Go back to sleep.") There is no music on the soundtrack until the last minute or two when it suddenly comes out of the blue with a somewhat disconcerting effect.

With this said, this is probably the best print that is available for this movie, and if you have any interest in the history of Asian/Chinese film or culture, this is certainly a film to see. Too bad such films do not have access to the financial resources to be properly restored. (Where is the George Eastman House when you need them?)

As for it being "The Greatest Chinese Film Ever Made"? I couldn't tell you since I haven't seen that many Chinese films. But, to be honest, I hope it isn't . . .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on August 13, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In a run-down town, with ruins for houses and a broken down wall for protection, live a family. The husband, Dai Liyan is sick all the time and his wife, Zhou Yuwen, spends most of her time taking care of him. When an old friend of the husband, Zhang Zhichen, shows up it turns he happens to be an old friend of the wife also. A good friend. In fact they use to be lovers. So now the stage is set. But there is more. The little sister of the husband kind of has a crush on Zhang Zhichen and Liyan thinks they would make a good marriage. As things go from bad to worse the simple story becomes more complex as everybody seems to slowly figure out what is happening. In the end even Liyan feels that his wife and friend would be better off together. Being made in 1948 it does make you wonder what the message of the movie is. After all, this is a product of a China recovering from World War Two yet still in the chaos of infighting, right before it became Red China. Maybe there is no message?
The film is only 90 minutes long and is not in the best condition. There is an essay on the DVD as an extra but nothing else.
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