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In mainland China, some of the greatest contemporary directors shaped the local film scene in the 1990s. While Wong Kar Wai and directors such as Edward Yang, Tsai Ming-Liang and long-take master Hou Hsiao-hsien were active in Hong Kong and Taiwan, a new generation of Chinese directors was emerging in Beijing. Some are known today, like Zhang Yimou and Jia Zhangke, but others made their main films in the 1990s, like Tian Zhuangzhuang, Chen Kaige and Zhang Junzhao. Known as the fifth generation of Chinese cinema, these filmmakers began making their art after the Cultural Revolution.



As a result, many of her films often dealt with themes of human existentialism and why humans exist. With characters that were fairly ordinary people, they built on the social realism that the previous generation of Chinese storytellers embodied in their work and created films that garnered worldwide attention. Some say the movement partially ended with the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre as censorship increased and several key filmmakers left the country. These are the best mainland China movies of the 1990s.

6 life

1994 life is an adaptation of a popular novel by Chinese writer Yu Hua. Directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Ge You and Gong Li, a frequent collaborator of Zhang and a prominent actress in the 1990s, the film offers a comprehensive look at contemporary Chinese history. Ge and Gong portray a couple living through the Chinese Civil War when the man who was a rich man’s son loses everything. When he is drafted into the army, he is captured by the communists and only allowed to return home if they win. Years later, as the Great Leap Forward begins, only more hardships await the family. life is a look at the difficulties citizens face in these times of rapid change.

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5 The Story of Qiu Ju

Zhang Yimou and Gong Li work together in the 1992s The Story of Qiu Jiu, a comedic drama about a woman in search of justice. Qiu Jiu (Gong) is a peasant woman who lives on the farms with her husband and will give birth to a child any day. When the leader of her community kicks her husband in the groin, he can no longer work. After the local police did nothing about the situation, apart from paying a fine, Qiu Ju goes to the big city to find a lawyer to take on her husband’s case. The Story of Qiu Ju is a glimpse into rural life in China as it was filmed in Shanxi with a hidden camera so some scenes in the film really represent everyday life as it happened.

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4 Pull up the red lantern

Pull up the red lantern is an adaptation of the 1990 novel wives and concubines by Su Tong, and it later became a ballet in the National Ballet of China. In 1920s China, a young woman (Gong Li) married a wealthy man after the death of her father, leaving the family completely bankrupt. She will be the husband’s fourth concubine, and while she is initially treated very well upon arrival at the house, she quickly finds that the concubines and wife are treated wildly differently and must fight each other to essentially be seen and seen are taken care of. Visually, Pull up the red lantern is a seductive film that creates a special atmosphere through cinematography that is unmatched by many films today.


3 The Blue Dragon

The Blue Dragon was released by Tian Zhuangzhuang in 1993 before taking a new step and style of filmmaking in the 2000s. The film is divided into three episodes: “Father”, “Uncle” and “Stepfather”, each corresponding to a specific moment in Chinese history. The narrator is originally a young boy, but in the first story the background is the Hundred Flowers campaign. When his father is sent to a labor camp and killed, his childhood and adolescence are overshadowed by the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution to come. The Blue Dragonhow life and Farewell, my concubinecriticizes the Communist Party and tries to use it as a metaphor for poison as it taints the unity of this family and rots it to the core.

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2 In the heat of the sun

Director Jiang Wen, best known for his appearance in Villain Onereleased In the heat of the sun in 1994. It’s also based on a book, albeit loosely. A teenager in 1970s Beijing, whose nickname is “Monkey”, roams the streets of the city with his friends every day. Because of the Cultural Revolution, her local schools are unable to provide education and her parents are often away. Unlike some hard-hitting movies from fifth-generation filmmakers, In the heat of the sun uses Jiang’s personal experiences to create an authentic film with moments of nostalgia rather than total dissatisfaction with Chinese history.

1 Farewell, my concubine

With Leslie Cheung, Zhang Fengyi and Gong Li, Farewell, my concubine is a powerhouse of a movie. According to the NY Times, the film was initially banned in China for negatively portraying the Cultural Revolution, but it became the first Chinese film to take home the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Farewell, my concubineThe protagonist of is Cheng Dieyi (Cheung), a young man who, after being abandoned by his mother, is trained to play female roles in Chinese operas. As he gets older and performs in operas with Duan Xiaolou, he begins to embody his character and falls in love with his male co-star. As a love triangle begins, the Chinese civil war unfolds, setting these performers down a dangerous path because of their jobs. An epic tale of unrequited love that weaves the turmoil of the times into its story is a film not to be missed.

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