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The River

Price: $39.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tien Miao, Kang-sheng Lee, Yi-Ching Lu, Ann Hui, Shiang-chyi Chen
  • Directors: Ming-liang Tsai
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Wellspring
  • DVD Release Date: February 4, 2003
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007KK1K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,958 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The River" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


The strange, elliptical movies of Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang (The Hole, What Time Is It There?) defy encapsulation. A description of The River will tell you about a female elevator operator, her pornography-selling lover, and her husband who goes to gay bathhouses. Her unhappy scooter-riding son runs into an actress he knew a few years earlier; she brings him to the set of a movie she's working on, where the young man gets a role as a corpse floating in a river. But none of that amounts to a plot in any conventional sense, and that summary doesn't capture the slow but hypnotic pace of Tsai's movies, or how the seemingly ordinary images will burn themselves into your memory. The lack of conventional action will frustrate some viewers, but others will find deadpan humor and an eerie cinematic poetry. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By K. Kaiser on August 8, 2004
Format: DVD
It seems like most everyone else reviewing this film missed the point entirely. If the film seems dead like the dummy, then why do you think the dummy was in the film in the first place? The characters are emotionally dead, floating down the river (of life?) like the dummy. Everything means something. Tsai Ming-Liang is not interested in how crazy he can make the camera move. He is one of the few directors I have seen whose films are a reaction AGAINST action, and by action I mean the Tarantino/Rodriguez-style. Which is not to say I don't admire those directors. Ming-Liang's films just hold so much SUBTLETY. The long shots and little camera movement force the viewer not to merely watch but to participate. Why is the camera set up this way? What am I watching? Why am I watching it? In other words, he forces the viewer to make the associations normally presented surface-level to the viewer of most other films. Apparently Wong Kar-Wai is supposed to be the new Godard. But Godard was always more into filming "essays" and filming in such a way that was supposedly not "allowed." So I believe Ming-Liang's films are much closer to Godard's style in that they are reactions against the current norm. He is the son of Ozu and Antonioni, with a complete aesthetic, technical, and emotional motivation behind his style. Ming-Liang is one of the most slept on directors working today. If you have a true love for cinema, not just Kevin Smith, Tarantino, and David Lynch, if you can appreciate a thin line between comedy and drama, if you can allow yourself to be sculpted into a new form of viewing cinema, just as the directors of the Nouvelle Vague once did, then... you get the idea.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2003
Format: DVD
it's amazing to me how you can summarize this film so matter of factly and made it through it, but can't realize that your emotional response to it was forecoded by the director. do you think he really wanted you to be mesmerized in the western-commodity-entertainment sense of a viewing experience? to fully appreciate tsai's masterpiece, we have to develop a new viewing strategy descendant from antonioni, ozu, etc. if you need a unifying thread to titillate your sense of linear narrative continuity, try the ubiquity of water in its myriad forms and how that relates to the despair and utter alienation of the characters both constricted by a colonized city that has grown too fast to maintain and the tyranny of the oedipal family scenario as it is linked to the very same capitalistic regime. it is a profound meditation on what happens to the spirit in this highly specific and contextualized allegory shot through with mise-en-scene punning and starkly lyrical use of a poetics of absence. try to get on an equation with the artist not just foist your own expectations on the work and then its secrets will flourish.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By kinojay33 on May 2, 2005
Format: DVD
Highly recommended if you are a fan of Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Tarr or other filmmakers who utilize time (especially slow pacing) and landscape to help develop the internal states of their characters. Tsai's films are very meditative and contemplative; they help you to understand a character by observing their daily routine and most intimate moments played out in full. His works are challenging, but well worth the effort.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Howard Courtney on January 18, 2005
Format: DVD
This movie is not what we Westerners are accustomed to in movies, therefore we tend to dismiss it. We like all emotions openly displayed. lots of dialogue and the plot must be resolved.

You will find none of this in this movie, but it is certainly worth viewing and once you understand the reason for the lack of interaction between characters, it does make sense.

Another aspect that makes the movie difficult is the long scenes when nothing is happening on the screen. That was the director's approach.

The family is totally disfunctional as a unit. The parents never speak to each other, they all eat alone, and they function in their own little worlds with virtually no emotion.

Even sex is random with no emotions attached.

After the encounter between the son and the father, no one speaks of it and life continues on as before. There is no resolution to anything. That is the horror of the whole movie.
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