Skip to main content

NEW YEAR SACRIFICE

China, 1956 (MIFF 1958, Programme 43)

Director: Sang Fu

Sang-Hu, who made the beautiful Chinese opera film Liang Sha &ndash: Po and Chu Ying &ndash: Tai (shown at the 1956 Melbourne Film Festival) in his latest production, New Year Sacrifice, gives us a drama set around 1911; the unhappy life of a Chinese woman sold in marriage.

Based on a short story by a famous Chinese author, the central figure is a young woman so despised that she has no name of her own but is always called "Hsian &ndash:lin's wife". Shortly after her husband dies, her mother-in-law wants to marry her off again because the betrothal money is needed. She runs away but her hideout is discovered and she is married to a woodcutter. He is a gentle, good man, and in time a deep affection springs up between them. But their happiness is short-lived. Her infant son is killed by a wolf and her husband sickens and dies. She is destitute.

A Mrs. Lu, moved to pity, takes in the woman. But "Hsiang &ndash: lin's wife" is no longer the active, bustling worker of old. When New Year comes round, Mr. Lu forbids her to take part in the preparation of the sacrifice, lest her misfortune contaminate the ceremony . . .

Slow, richly coloured, the film's mood of poetic melancholy is admirably sustained and its characters subtly delineated. The sad, interior faces of the people and the apt, uncluttered decors often suggest the influence of Japanese filmmakers. Although the director lacks their professional flair, his film's feeling is pure and eloquent.

See also...

Paper Run

Every day in cities all over the world, people await the newsagent with the day's news. This film shows how the morning papers come to people at Newport, N.S.W. ... More »

HANDICAPPED LOVE

The handicapped experience the difficulties of living together in an extreme form. This film shows four of them in the attempt to overcome their greatest handicap: human isolation. Together with ... More »

Swain

In the Hellenic myth, Hyacinthus was a beautiful youth who was loved by Apollo and Zephyrus. He returned Apollo's love, so Zephyrus killed him from jealousy. In the director's reading of the myth ... More »

Two Men of Fiji

In Fiji there is a tendency for the young people to drift to the larger centres of population. This is the story of one such young man and his realisation that, after all, there is a place for him in ... More »

Free Fall

Described as "a deliberate experiment in the manipulation of the accidental and the irrational", the film is an uncompromising view of aimless living. ... More »

Acte Sans Paroles

An animated enactment of Samuel Beckett's play about regimented modern man. ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director