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552 Ratings

A Time to Live and a Time to Die

Tong nien wang shi

Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien
Taiwan, 1985
Drama, History


A depiction of childhood maturity drawing heavily upon Hou’s own youth. Many who moved from mainland China to Taiwan in the 1940’s were unable to ever return. A Time To Live and a Time To Die focuses on the widening generation gap in a family cut off from its cultural roots.

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A Time to Live and a Time to Die Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien

Awards & Festivals

Berlin International Film Festival

1986 | Winner: FIPRESCI Prize (Forum of New Cinema)

International Film Festival Rotterdam

1987 | Winner: Best Non-American/Non-European Film (Rotterdam Award)

Golden Horse Film Festival

1985 | 2 wins including: Best Original Screenplay

Critics reviews

As his educated family faces poverty and disease as refugees, he yields to reckless, liberating impulses. Hou’s teeming yet oblique long takes serve to conceal action as well as reveal it; his images suggest a struggle to discern the particulars of a past that holds him in its grasp.
September 11, 2014
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Though a project of recollection and recreation, A Time to Live and a Time to Die is, as its title suggests, as much about life and resilience as about what’s gone and regretted. Even those scenes of adolescent stupidity witness a full-chested vivacity in Hsiao, as well as an increased stirring of maturity.
August 07, 2008
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At last, one is left with the feeling of what it’s like to stand in their family’s house years later, awash in so many years of memories, and realise that those moments and the people who inhabited them, whether alive or dead, are gone forever, save in one’s memory… The fact remains that for me, this movie was then, and is now, not just cinema as living memory, but memory as living cinema. It is my hope that it will live for you too.
February 07, 2006
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