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A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY

Taiwan, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Edward Yang

Edward Yang's long-awaited fourth feature is an independent production on an epic scale, a picture of Taiwan in 1960/61 as reflect­ed in the story of a teenage boy who kills a schoolgirl. For many, this is a Taiwan caught between the pull of Mainland China and the lure of the US, the land of milk and honey where Elvis Presley sings (or does he?) of "a brighter summer day." It's also a Taiwan of Communist-spy scares, where the kids from Mainland families have formed street gangs to assert their own identity and to challenge each other for supremacy.

Xiao Sir (superbly played by newcomer Zhang Zhen) is a bit of a loner; unlike his best friends Cat and Airplane, he's not a member of the Little Park Gang. He doesn't sing or play music, and he spends too much time reading by torchlight in his boxed-in bunk bed. When he first meets Ming (Lisa Yang, another strik­ing newcomer), he keeps his distance. He knows that she was the friend of Honey, the missing leader of the Little Park Gang. His growing infatuation with her coincides with the return of Honey, a struggle for control of the gang, and a deadly clash between the boys and their rivals, the 217 Gang — tough kids from military families.

Edward Yang locates this story at the heart of a vast fresco crowded with warmth, humour, violence and a wealth of intimate detail. For once, 'masterpiece' seems the appro­priate word.

• Tony Rayns

See also...

A ONE AND A TWO (YI YI) (M)

Taiwan, Japan, 2000
"As I watched... Yi Yi [A One and A Two] through bleary eyes, I struggled to identify the overpowering feeling that was making me tear up. Was it grief? Joy? Mirth? Yes, I decided, it was all of thes… More »

MAHJONG

Taiwan, 1996
“Yang's angriest and most provocative film, and also probably the one that's elicited the most anger from viewers, especially in the West.” - Chicago ReaderConsisting of seemingly disparate story… More »

TERRORIZER, THE (M)

Taiwan, 1986
“The film suggests that we all have our ways of ‘terrorizing' each other, and that we'd all like our lives to be as coherent and resolved as fiction. Yang reaches high, and his aim is true.” - … More »

CONFUCIAN CONFUSION, A

Taiwan, 1994
"Sleek, chic and hysterical, the film owes more to Preston Sturges than Michelangelo Antonioni." - Cinematheque Ontario ... Set over a couple of frenetic days in a Taipei entertainment corporation, A… More »

BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY, A

Taiwan, 1991
"This film is so uncommonly good that Yang's other very impressive works pale beside it." - Chicago Reader ... Often spoken of in terms of ‘genius' and even ‘one of the greatest films ever made',… More »

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