Arts & Lectures offered a unique glimpse at Chinese filmmaking by presenting Tian Zhuangzhuang’s 2002 “Springtime in A Small Town” on Nov. 29. The film delivered a blend of visually alluring landscapes while telling a story about subdued lovers and their heartbreaking fate.
Set in a small town that has been demolished by the infiltration and bombing by the Japanese, the scenic shots of both architectural ruins and rural countryside hypnotize the viewer with their true aesthetic appeal.
The storyline follows a 30-year-old household master, Dai Liyen, who has taken ill and calls on his best friend, who he hasn’t seen in ten years. His friend, Zhichen, who is now an extremely successful doctor, has, unbeknownst to master Liyen, had a decade-long repressed love affair with Yuwen, Liyen’s wife. With failed attempts to rekindle the relationship, the doctor returns to Shanghai, and Yuwen returns to dedicating her life to her husband.
The acting in this film is impressive, with the actors portraying multifaceted personalities, and the characters are well-developed, which allows for deeper attraction and sympathy for them.
A disadvantage of this foreign film was the poorly timed captions at the bottom of the screen. The length of speaking time did not match up to the amount of time the caption was kept up and therefore made it very difficult to get the full effect of the dialogue.
This period drama brings a realistic perspective to a postwar China. The film was incredibly depressing; be prepared to leave the theater in a morbidly morose mood. This was an emotionally draining and uninspiring film.