The Time to Live and the Time to Die

dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Celebrated director Hou Hsiao-hsien made his first masterpiece with this semi-autobiographical drama about a family who settle in Taiwan in 1947.

ARCHIVAL PRINT!

One of our most important living filmmakers, Hou Hsiao-hsien made his first masterpiece with this semi-autobiographical drama about a family who settle in Taiwan in 1947. At once a highly specific and universally resonant portrait of the cross-generational difficulties facing refugees as they try to adjust to life in a new land, The Time to Live parallels the respective experiences of the young boy Ah-ha, who has never known anything other than his family's adopted home in a small village; his old grandmother, exhausted by a lifetime of violence and suffering under both feudal rule and the chaos of civil war, who now takes refuge in senile fantasies of a blissful return to the home she left behind; and his father, one foot in each place, torn between his filial obligations and his longing for a new start. Hou's masterfully measured tone, his impeccable compositions and often astonishing use of deep focus announced him to the world as a major new artist; the widespread acclaim and festival success of The Time to Live laid the groundwork for the triumphant international reception of A City of Sadness four years later. "Everything is right: the miraculous use of sound, the limpid cinematography, the natural acting ... one of [Hou's] simplest films, and one of his most universal" (Derek Malcom, The Guardian).