Zhang's Berlin Special Jury Prize-winner sees the present in grey, dispiriting monochrome, but flashes back to the politically fraught 1950s in rapturous colour - questionably suggesting that the Chinese were tougher, truer and more sincere in the good old days of political persecution. Set in a remote northern village, it charts one pretty girl's dogged courtship of the young teacher at the local school - the first obstacle being social taboos against unchaperoned meetings, the second being his lengthy disappearance for questioning in connection with 1957's 'Anti-Rightist campaign'. Both subject and style recall Xie Jin's The Herdsman (1981), a prime example of the kind of cinema that the 'Fifth Generation' directors supposedly swept away. The ultra-sentimental ending spells out the point that the Chinese can be as good as they ever were if only they stay in touch with their traditions.
Cast and crew