7.00pm , 3.30pm
A Brighter Summer Day
$12 General Admission
A singular achievement in the history of cinema, Edward Yang’s 1991 masterpiece A Brighter Summer Day is a sprawling, novelistic vision of an era; a chronicle of a community and its youngest members lost in the political and cultural convulsions of its brief timeline.
Set between 1959-61, the film primarily follows junior high student Xiao Si’r, whose parents – along with many of his friends – fled mainland China following the Communist victory in 1949 and attempted to start a new life in the oppressive, nationalist-governed Republic of China (Taiwan). Si’r and his family live on the outskirts of an ever-growing Taipei, a melting pot of the remnants of Japanese colonialism, pre-Civil War Taiwanese, refugees from the mainland, and an influx of western culture, Si’r’s generation emerging amidst it all.
Unlike most of its Western counterparts, A Brighter Summer Day does not approach its “coming of age” narrative with rose-tinted glasses, nor does it obscure the politics and social realities from the history it recreates; indeed, its entire structure is the parallel of Si’r’s story with the story of his community and country. It is simultaneously distant and warm, nostalgic, yet critical; as enormous and epic as it is intimate and enclosed; a snapshot that somehow captures an epoch.
In its immensity and beauty, and its focus on the trials and tribulations of Si’r as he engages with the invading American popular culture, falling in and out of gangs and love, A Brighter Summer Day is a testament to the power of cinema. It compels us to review our pasts more attentively – how we became, and what we might be, as people entangled in living history.
Description courtesy of Aaron Dean.