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Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Memories of Old Beijing (1983)

The Beijing of the 1920's seen through the eyes of a little girl. The neighborhood is in the Southern part of the city, inhabited by the poor; among them some middle class people. The girl has the innocence and curiosity of each kid of that age and her eyes chronicle what's unfolding in the family, at school, on the street, in the life of the neighbors. A young woman got mad; the girl wants to see what the matter is, the mother stops her. The girl insists, and witnesses the crises of the mad woman; her husband had been executed for revolutionary activities, her little daughter had disappeared, the woman has lost her minds. Another neighbor, a young girl, is abused by her parents. A young thief is hiding in the junk behind the girl's house, they become friends. He will be caught by the police. A new brother is born and all attention at home is directed to him. The father gets sick and dies. Beyond all these dramas, there is the magic of the old city, crossed sometimes by carts pulled by donkeys, sometimes by caravans with camels, sometimes by police escorting political prisoners or thieves; and the joy of life of the little daughter. A superb blend of innocence and nostalgia: the innocence of the kid, the nostalgia of the grown up who once upon a time was a little girl. The grown up who knows that times don't come back and the old city will never be again as it was once upon a time.

My Memories of Old Beijing (城南舊事 - Cheng nan jiu shi), an 88 minutes movie made in 1982 and released in 1983. The Chinese title literally means Old Stories of the Southern Part of the City. It's based on an autobiographical novel written by Lin Haiyin: born in Osaka in 1918, she came with her family to Beijing at the age of five and spent there the following 25 years. In 1948 she moved to Taiwan and became a well known author. Lin Haiyin died in 2001.

A good characterization for the movie is given by zzmale: what gives this post-revolution era film a high score is that it is one of the earliest of the films shot in China that describes the pre-revolution era without any political bias and propaganda.

The copy I am giving you here has no subtitles. If you know Mandarin Chinese then fine. If you don't know Chinese but still are a Chinese film buff (like me) then it's up to you. I watched it and it's worth. If you don't know Chinese and are not interested in their films, then definitely this is the wrong place. And don't shoot the pianist :)

I wish to thank here Zdzisia Skowronska who brought this movie to my attention.

(Chinese Cinema)


  • Could You, please, share this movie(upload or torrent). Have searched everywhere, nowhere have found.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:46 AM  

  • Unfortunately the copy I had posted here is no more available. Maybe Zdzisia Skowronska should have some more info. You can contact her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/zdzisia.skowronska).

    Meanwhile, if I find something I'll let you know. What I can do is to look for the film using the Chinese title (城南舊事) - which guaranties at most a copy without subtitles :) I did it once and I was lucky that time:


    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 4:12 AM  

  • I come back with to your comment. I found something.

    Please check this out:


    Later in the day IO will try to copy it on my blog. I'll let you know.


    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 4:15 AM  

  • Sorry, it seems that thelink I gave you directs to another Chinese movie. Check this out:


    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 4:59 AM  

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