A City of Sadness (Chinese: 悲情城市; pinyin: bēiqíng chéngshì) is a 1989 Taiwanese historical drama film directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien. It tells the story of a family embroiled in the tragic "White Terror" that was wrought on the Taiwanese people by the Kuomintang government (KMT) after their arrival from mainland China in the late 1940s, during which thousands of Taiwanese were rounded up, shot, and/or sent to prison.
The film depicts the Lin family's experiences during the White Terror. The eldest brother Wen-heung (Sung Young Chen) is murdered by a Shanghai mafia boss, the middle brother Wen-leung (Jack Kao) suffers a traumatic brain injury in a KMT jailhouse, and the youngest brother Wen-ching (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), who is both deaf and mute, hopes to flee to the mountains with his friend to fight in the anti-KMT resistance movement. By the end of the film even the photographer Wen-ching has been arrested by the authorities, leaving only his wife to tell the story of the family's destruction.
Wen-ching's deafness began as an expedient to disguise Tony Leung's inability to speak Taiwanese (or Japanese—the language taught in Taiwan's schools during the 51-year occupation), but wound up being an effective means to demonstrate the brutal insensitivity of Chen Yi's ROC administration.
Cast & Credits
There are no peak moments of dramatic interest for which everything else is simply an accumulation. The camera simply records events from a distance without judgment or evaluation, allowing the complexities of the characters and situations to develop gradually. Everything is relevant. This attention to the common makes us realize that history affects everyone, not only on the battlefield, but also in the silence of daily life.
A striking portrait of one of the most traumatic events in Taiwan's history and its popularity in Taiwan reflected his willingness to deal with a previously taboo subject. A movie impressed you.