DFT @ Home | Flowers of Shanghai (restored)

(Taiwan/1998--directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien) 

A time-bending experience bathed in the golden glow of oil lamps and wreathed in an opium haze, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s visually intoxicating period drama traces the intertwined fortunes and intrigues of four “flower girls” serving in the opulent brothels of late 19th-century Shanghai. Flower girls were courtesans confined to a gilded cage of seemingly opulent splendor, while forced to work in hopes of buying back their freedom. Among the regular clients is the taciturn Master Wang (Tony Leung), whose relationship with his longtime mistress (Michiko Hada) is roiled by a perceived act of betrayal.

Unfolding in deceptively elegant long takes, Flowers of Shanghai evokes a distant world of hypocrisy and corruption, an insular universe where much of the dramatic action remains just outside the frame—even as its emotional fallout registers with devastation.

Hou’s first film set outside his native Taiwan, Flowers of Shanghai is a transfixing landmark of world cinema. Restored to its original, rich colors in 2019 from the original negative at Italy’s L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory, under the supervision of Shochiku Studios and the Shanghai International Film Festival. In Cantonese and Shanghainese with English subtitles. (113 minutes) 

"Exquisite." -The Guardian, UK 

“The film opens with a brilliant seven-minute take; the languid yet precise cinematography throughout gives it the seductive power of a drug-induced dream.” -Berenice Reynaud, Chicago Reader 

 

 

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