Flowers of Shanghai

(Hai shang hua)

Digital Restoration
Available November 27

featuring

Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Michiko Hada, Carina Lau, Michele Reis, Jack Kao,

BAMPFA from Home

Watch this film on your TV, computer, or mobile device through our streaming partner, Eventive, beginning November 27. When you use this link, your rental benefits BAMPFA.

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To say that Flowers of Shanghai was well received by critics is to gild the lily, throw a perfume on the violet. Phillip Lopate called it “perfect, and one of the most beautiful films ever made”; Chuck Stephens, “one of the greatest films of all time.” In a Shanghai brothel circa 1890, an intimate dinner gambling party is going on, obviously a continuation of last night’s, and a preview of tomorrow’s. Here, men with money spend time away from arranged marriages and (presumably) a world outside, with women who have been bred and raised to love them. Of course, it’s not that simple; in fact, it’s not simple at all. Hou’s normally still camera languorously, almost imperceptibly moves, as we observe relationships played out in eyeline matches and subtle gestures—relationships that will unfold in their strange, internecine complexity over the next two hours. Fueled by opium on one side and economic need on the other, love blossoms, climbs and strangles, withers. Particularly affecting are sad-eyed Tony Leung as Master Wang, and Michiko Hada as Crimson, the courtesan from whom he seems to be drifting . . . or is he?

Judy Bloch
FILM DETAILS 
Screenwriter
  • Chu Tien-wen
Cinematographer
  • Mark Lee Ping-bin
Language
  • Shanghainese
  • Cantonese
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • Color
  • Digital streaming
  • 113 mins
Source
  • Janus Films