Skip to main content

SUMMER PALACE

China / France, 2005 (MIFF 2006, Transience: The Asian Metropolis)

Director: Lou Ye

With Summer Palace, Lou Ye establishes himself as the first Chinese filmmaker to use the 1989 Tiananmen Square student uprising as his backdrop, earning him, unsurprisingly, the ire of the Chinese authorities.
However, far from being a political diatribe, Lou's film is a sensual and complex epic of two star-crossed lovers who play games with each other's hearts almost as dangerous as the social unrest raging around them.
The Cannes Film Festival described Summer Palace as “An ambitious work, which, like his (Lou's) preceding film (Purple Butterfly) blends the torments of the heart with those of history.” Lou says of his motivations and the autobiographical nature of the film, “What I wanted to say is that personal feelings are far more complicated. Exterior chaos is more easily resolved.”
Sure to generate a lot of heat, as much for its frank sexuality as its historical context, Summer Palace is a vital and potent recognition of often unspoken personal and public issues in China.

D Lou Ye P Fang Li, Nai An, Sylvain Bursztejn S Lou Ye, Zeng Jian
WS Wild Bunch L Chinese, German w/English subtitles TD35mm/2006/140mins

Lou Ye was born in Shanghai, China, in 1965. His films include Weekend Lover (1995), Suzhou River (2000) and Purple Butterfly (2003).

See also...

SUZHOU

"A compelling story of love and obsession whose progress mirrors the sinuous flow of the Shanghai waterway that supplies its title, Suzhou (River). Combining elements from classical Hollywood ... More »

DAM STREET

A cross-generational story of ostracism, love and the legacy of the past, Dam Street chronicles the life of a woman whose teenage indiscretion continues to haunt her years after the event. ... In a ... More »

EVERLASTING REGRET

Everlasting Regret received six nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards. ... Based on the best-selling 1996 novel by Wang Anyi, Stanley Kwan's handsome epic, Everlasting Love, sweeps across the ... More »

SUNFLOWER

Leading Chinese director Zhang Yang turns his perceptive eye to the inner dynamics of one post-Cultural Revolution family in Beijing and produces an emotionally affecting drama that illuminates three ... More »

PERHAPS LOVE

A musical film production in Shanghai reunites old lovers and sets the scene for a tragic love triangle in this glorious musical from director Peter Ho-sun Chan, starring Japanese pin-up Takeshi ... More »

THREE TIMES

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien is certainly one of the greatest living filmmakers - and this new masterpiece acts as undeniable proof. It tells three love stories set in different eras; The ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director