Political Film Society - Summer Palace

PFS Film Review
Summer Palace (Yihe Yuan)


Summer PalaceDirected by Lou Ye, Summer Palace (Yihe Yuan) views modern China from the perspective of college students, who are adrift amid the new capitalist society. No longer controlled by family or the state, Hu Hong (played by Lei Hao) leaves her boyfriend Xiao Jun (played by Lin Cui) in Tumen to study at Beijing University, where she is courted by Zhou Wei (played by Guo Xiaodong) but finds no purpose in life other than in passionate sex, brief participation in the uprising and suppression of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989, whereupon Xiao Jun comes to rescue and marry her. The film also follows disillusioned Zhou Wei to Berlin after the suppression, where he also feels an anomie that leads to a suicide by his girlfriend and former classmate Li Ti (played by Ling Hu). Nude men with extraordinary passionate sex drives dominate the screen in more than a dozen conquests, while Hu Hong’s voiceovers convey the mental anguish of young people unable to cope with their freedoms. MH

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