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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Spring ina  Small Town' or 'Xiao cheng zhi chun')

directed by Mu Fei

China 1948

 

Regarded as the finest work from the first great era of Chinese filmmaking, Fei Mu's quiet, piercingly poignant study of adulterous desire and guilt-ridden despair is a remarkable rediscovery, often compared to David Lean's Brief Encounter (1945). After eight years of marriage to Liyan -once rich but now a shadow of his former self following a long, ruinous war - Yuwen does little except deliver his daily medication. A surprise visit from Liyan's friend Zhang re-energises the household, but also stirs up dangerously suppressed longings and resentments.

Director Feu Mu's deft use of locations, dissolves and camera movements makes for a fraught, febrile mood of hesitant passion, entrapment and ennui. Cinematically and psychologically sophisticated, Spring in a Small Town has been restored by the China Film Archive, and is accompanied here by a number of rare and fascinating films from the BFI National Archive.

Posters

Theatrical Release: Beijing 1948

 

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:36:42 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.94 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

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

Bitrate

Audio Mandarin Dolby mono
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio:
BFI

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• BFI re-release trailer (1:50)
• A Small Town in China (1933, 9:05): an intimate portrait of community life in an unidentified Chinese town
• This is China (1946, 8:11): a fascinating compilation of scenes showing diversity and disparity in 1940s China
• Fully illustrated booklet

DVD Release Date:
February 23rd, 2015
Amaray

Chapters 40

 

 

 

Comments

Restored by the China Film Archive, as part of the Digital Restoration Project, Spring in a Small Town looks amazing on BFI DVD. There was a Cinema Epoch NTSC version that came out in 2007 HERE, (as well as other hackneyed Asian DVD editions) but they pale in comparison to this new transfer. Many frames look absolutely pristine - almost like 8X10 glossies. Now, there is some flickering contrast and some un-repairable damage but it is totally minimal. It might last a few frames but, overall, in-motion the image looks quite impressive considering the film is 67 years old. The screen captures should give you a good idea how strong this video presentation is.

The mono audio has a bit of echo - more noticeable at some times more than others - but, again, it is nothing that deterred my viewing. The clarity confirmed it too had some thorough restoration. There are optional English subtitles on the region 2 PAL disc.

BFI add two rare shorts from their own Archive. A Small Town in China from1933 is an intimate portrait of community life in an unidentified Chinese town and runs 9-minutes. This is China is over 8-minutes from 1946. It is a fascinating compilation of scenes showing diversity and disparity in 1940s China. There is also a BFI re-release trailer and the package has a fully illustrated, liner notes, booklet including a picture of the film's poster and an essay.

Brilliant de-politicized film with rich characters - that has influenced filmmakers like Zhang Yimou (To Live), Chen Kaige (Together), Jia Zhangke (Still Life) and Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood For Love). The only question left - is will it come to Blu-ray one day? For bow this DVD is essential viewing - a must own disc for cinephiles everywhere.

NOTE: Received in email: "Fei Mu SPRING IN A SMALL TOWN from the BFI arrived and I'm a bit aghast that after all the restoration work they've released the version lacking most of the music track. I was never quite clear about what happened between these two versions but thought it had to do with the China Film Archive and China Film Export people having different copies and the latter being more accessible. But this could be wrong.

I guess we shouldn't announce too broadly that the complete score is on the YouTube version.

It simply looks very weird in those opening scenes with the heroine wandering around the ruined mansion, turning, pausing and continuing her stroll when this should be accompanied by an orchestral counterpoint. "

  - Gary Tooze

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

 



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