http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/reading.htm




(aka "Hai shang hua" or "Flowers of Shanghai" )

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/hou.htm
Taiwan 1998

The delicate, exquisitely constructed interiors of the late nineteenth century Shanghai brothels - the flower houses - create a serene, idyllic escape for its venerated patrons. Here, in the euphemistic propriety of privileged society, madams, called "aunts", arrange sexual liaisons for their flower girls through appointed bookings. "The Flowers of Shanghai" opens to a shot of these wealthy and powerful men, accompanied by their flower girls at a dining table. Within the insular walls of the flower houses, these men create a stifling, dystopic world that revolves around their arrogance and vanity: they amuse themselves with incomprehensible drinking games, idly gossip about the affairs of other patrons, leisurely smoke opium, and indulge in the paid services of women. But these flower girls are far from the fragile, exotic creatures evocative of their names. Pearl, the senior member of the Gongyang Enclave flower girls, provides helpful guidance to the younger, immature flower girls. Emerald, a popular flower girl from the Shangren Enclave, is a willful, determined woman who relies on her intelligence and influence on men to buy her freedom. A fading flower girl, Crimson, is burdened with the responsibility of supporting her family. Facing the prospective end of a long-term relationship with her exclusive client, Master Wang, she accepts the inevitable with dignity and perseverance. When Master Yang decides to marry a younger flower girl, Jasmin, to punish Crimson for her rumored infidelity, it is Wang who suffers from their separation. Jade, an idealistic woman who believes her patron's empty declarations of love, attempts to ensnare him in a suicide pact, which, in an unexpected turn of events, proves to be a life-altering event.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien crafts a visually hypnotic and intricately fascinating portrait of love, power, and servitude in "The Flowers of Shanghai". By confining the scenes to interior shots of the Shanghai flower houses, Hou portrays the created, artificial world - the unsustainable illusion - of the flower house patrons. In essence, the flower houses are an idealized reflection of the patrons' own ambivalent feelings between love and passion, obligation and generosity, commitment and fidelity. Inevitably, their hermetic environment of lavished wealth and drug-induced escapism cannot prevent the objects of their affection - the emotionally resilient flower girls - from escaping their tenacious, suffocating grasp.

Excerpt from Acquarello's post in the DVDBeaver Forum and located on his Strictly Film School website HERE

Posters etc.

Theatrical Release: May 1998 - Cannes Film Festival

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

WideSight - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Fox/Lorber (Winstar) - Region 0 - NTSC

(WideSight - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Fox/Lorber (Winstar) - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

WideSight (HK)

Region 0  - NTSC

Fox/Lorber (Winstar)
Region 0  - NTSC
Runtime 1:53:36 1:53:20
Video

1.83:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.31 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.83:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.86 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Fox

 

Bitrate:

 

BFI

 

Audio Shanghainese (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround) (Mpeg 2)

Shanghainese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)

Subtitles English, Traditional Chinese (ingrained) English, and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: WideSight

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen  - 1.83:1

Edition Details:
• Introduction (Chinese text screen)

DVD Release Date: 2000?
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 8

Release Information:
Studio: Fox / Lorber

Aspect Ratio:

Widescreen  - 1.83:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer
• Filmography 

DVD Release Date: April 16th, 2002

Keep Case
Chapters: 16

 

Comments

Frankly both of these transfers leave a lot to be desired. Neither are progressive, neither are 16X9 enhanced - the F/L has contrast boosting and the WideSight has ingrained (dual) subtitles. Combing is prevalent on both releases. The WideSight boasts a 5.1 track to the F/L's 2.0. Extras are non-existent in both. I suppose you can choose 'your' lesser evil as I see no superior edition on the horizon.

 

Lastly, this is a very difficult and demanding work by Hou and the film will not appeal to everyone. We certainly do not recommend it as a first exposure to this acclaimed director. It is very slowly paced with exceptionally dark lighting sequences. Upon repeat exposure it can be quite rewarding though.

 - Henrik Sylow

 



DVD Menus
(WideSight - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Fox/Lorber (Winstar) - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT)


 

 


 

Subtitle Sample

(WideSight - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber (Winstar) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)


 


Screen Captures

(WideSight - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber (Winstar) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 


 

(WideSight - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber (Winstar) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(WideSight - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber (Winstar) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 


 

(WideSight - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber (Winstar) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 
DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

WideSight (HK)

Region 0  - NTSC

Fox/Lorber (Winstar)
Region 0  - NTSC

 


Hit Counter


Report Card:

Image:

Neither

Sound:

WideSight

Extras: -
Menu: Fox/Lorber





 

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Many Thanks...

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