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Shan zha shu zhi lian (2010) Online

Shan zha shu zhi lian (2010) Online
Original Title :
Shan zha shu zhi lian
Genre :
Movie / Drama / Romance
Year :
Directror :
Yimou Zhang
Cast :
Xuejian Li,Taishen Cheng,Dongyu Zhou
Writer :
Ai Mi,Lichuan Yin
Type :
Time :
1h 54min
Rating :
Shan zha shu zhi lian (2010) Online

"Under the Hawthorn Tree" tells the story of Jing, a naive city schoolgirl to be transferred to a remote village for "re-education" during the Cultural Revolution. In China's heavens reigns one solitary God, Mao. Jing's father has been jailed for "rightist" and her mother struggles to feed her three children. Jing knows that both their future and the welfare of her family depend, in view of the authorities, on their good behavior. A small error would be enough to ruin their lives. But Jing's prudent and peaceful existence is disrupted when she condescends to the attentions of Sun, the charming son of an elite military member. Due to the social gap separating them, a romance between them is unthinkable; even more so, dangerous. But the attraction is mutual, powerful and undeniable. Jing tries to resist, but Sun chases her politely, even after she is back to her native city. Love between the two blossoms. It is a pure, passionate and secret love. No one should know, still less her ...
Cast overview, first billed only:
Xuejian Li Xuejian Li - Village head Zhang (Zhang Duizhang)
Taishen Cheng Taishen Cheng - Teacher Luo (Luo Laoshi)
Dongyu Zhou Dongyu Zhou - Jing (Jingqiu)
Rina Sa Rina Sa - Auntie (Da Ma)
Xiaoyu He Xiaoyu He - Huanhuan
Xinbo Yu Xinbo Yu - Lin (Changlin)
Shawn Dou Shawn Dou - Sun Jianxin (Lao San)
Xinyun Yi Xinyun Yi - Fang (Changfang)
Zheng Wang Zheng Wang - Eldest Brother (Da Ge)
Zhuoran Yao Zhuoran Yao - Sister-in-Law (Da Sao)
Ruijia Jiang Ruijia Jiang - Wei (Weihong)
Meijuan Xi Meijuan Xi - Jing's Mother (Jingqiu Muqin)
Muyuan Qiu Muyuan Qiu - Jing's Brother (Jingqiu Didi)
Xinyuan Hu Xinyuan Hu - Jing's Sister (Jingqiu Meimei)
Jinsong Wang Jinsong Wang - Director Li (Li Zhuren) (as Qi Ke)

User reviews



There is a scene, about two thirds of the way through, in which an older woman, mother to three children, sits down with her eldest daughter and the boy she has fallen in love with, and for about five minutes, they speak to each other. These are hard times – all three know it. At the beginning of the scene, the mother is sceptical. She treats the two as children, with their heads in the clouds. But the conversation develops, and gradually, we realise a change in the mother. She cannot back down – in practical, surviving terms, she is in the right. But she softens her approach, and by the end, even has a kind of basic respect for the two, behind her frosty exterior. For she has seen the love that these two have for each other, and recognised it. It was then that I knew I was watching a great movie…

If 'Lola' was a disappointment in the Asia Triennial Film Festival this year, Zhang Yimou's new film – a love story set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution – makes up for it tenfold. It's not very often I get the opportunity to rave about a film like this, as they are so rarely done well; cynicism, plot complication and saccharine cliché at turns are what often makes a love story such as this horrifically superficial and painful to watch. But Yimou knows what he is doing. Arguably the finest working Chinese director (with the masterpieces 'Raise The Red Lantern', 'Hero' and 'House of Flying Daggers' to his name), he has succeeded here in making a beautiful, heartfelt film, spilling over with the love and care that has gone into its production.

Zhang Jingqiu is a student sent to do research and write a report for her school on a small village in Yichang City. She stays with the head of the village and his family. While there, she meets Sun, a geology student. What follows is inevitable. But how delicately rendered it is: Jing is the most beautiful, innocent young woman Sun has ever seen, and Jing, emotional and vulnerable, is amazed by him. Love at first sight! But this isn't as whimsical as it sounds. Yimou hasn't completely forgotten his political ideals and ability for scathing criticism: with this latest endeavour, he explores just how stifled and suffocating Mao's regime was for everyone under his power, and the emotional deadlock that threaten to destroy his protagonists at every turn. Frolicking, even in the most innocent sense of the work, was risky; Sun and Jing are from different classes, exacerbating the issue. Were they to be found out, her life and ambitions to work as a teacher would be ruined.

I was unsure, during the first half of the film, what to think. Yimou makes some interesting structural choices as regarding his narrative – many of the scenes are divided by inter-titles, telling us of an event we are not allowed to see, and then moving on to its aftermath. Most directors would die before doing this – especially in a film requiring the emotional impact this needs – and, I admit, I doubted its benefits at first. But instead of hindering the drive of the plot, Yimou has used it in such a way – not to cut the film into a digestible running length, but simply to avoid over melodramatics, and focus (almost entirely) on the couple in question. Supplementary information is given to us by other means – the filmed scenes are belong exclusively to Yimou's exploration of our two protagonists' relationship. It works perfectly.

Of course, we all know the rules. Both lovers are alive at the beginning; the same cannot be said after the end credits begin to roll. What makes this movie so wonderful isn't its startling originality; it isn't going to revolutionise cinema as we know it, or spark off long lasting controversy. Rather, what we are offered is a little less prestigious, but by no means less special. What we find is emotional honesty – when we start to cry at the end, we don't feel cheated; instead, we revel in the director's success. More importantly, though, we have felt for his characters, having engaged with them completely, and have a kind of renewed respect for the kind of pure, unconditional love we have been shown. The film is yet another example of Yimou's mastery of the 'anti-melodrama' – much like his early work, this is incredibly restrained, beautifully measured and patiently observed, shot through with a warmth and tender humanity that shouldn't inspire anything but admiration. Cynics – stay away. But for all the romantics out there (of which I, admittedly, am one), I couldn't recommend this more highly. Simply put, it's exquisite.


Zhang Yimou returns to a more basic form of film-making in this touching story of innocent love from China's Cutural Revolution era. Very strong performances add substance to an otherwise simple story of young lovers burdened by societal difficulties in their efforts to be together. Ms. Zhou is very good in her role as a young, innocent woman who meets a special boy, Shawn Dou, amid the turbulence of China's revolutionary years. Both girl and boy are sent to the country-side to labor under Mao's crazed design for social re-ordering. The film does not focus so much on the madness of the times as on the fear of being labeled politically incorrect which, coupled with the socially conservative norms of traditional China, serve to encumber the innocent desire to be together. A slow but nicely filmed story of heartache and heartbreak.


Mao Zedong and the Killing of the Kiss

Shan zha shu zhi lian/Under The Hawthorn Tree (2010) is a very romantic film. It is a tear-jerker. It is also beautifully made and can be added to the extensive list of classic movies directed by Yimou Zhang.

If you are familiar with the languid style of some Asian cinema, then this film is spectacularly rewarding and intensely moving.

This film represents a young generation brought up in an atmosphere of fear and paranoia, cultivated by Mao Zedong and his insidious rule. These characters have been moulded into automatons with their natural impulses cruelly suppressed.

Zhou Dongyu is brilliant as the young and inexperienced Jingqiu and Dou Xiao is utterly charming as the male love interest.

It seems that many in the West have misunderstood this film. One critic calls this film "emotionally emaciated". How wrong can someone be?

Maybe the undeservedly poor rating on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes is because there are no psychotic ballerinas with self-mutilation fetishes or protracted gun fights within CGI dreams?

One thing is for sure, Under The Hawthorn Tree is a brilliant piece of filmmaking.


After the debacle that was A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop (2009), a disappointing remake of the Coens' Blood Simple (1984), Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou restores his reputation with his latest effort that is a nostalgic throwback to the pre-Hero period in the nineties that made the director one of the few Asian masters of the dramatic form. Under the Hawthorn Tree is clearly not Zhang at the top of his game, but it is a reminder of his talent in crafting powerful tearjerkers set in the various turbulent eras of China's modern history.

Hawthorn Tree is similar to The Road Home (2000) in approach. It is a beautiful love story acted out by a competent cast, at times playful, at times emotional, but never too overtly sentimental. This is especially so for Hawthorn Tree, which some have described as "the purest love story ever told", and I believe it just might be true. I have not seen a filmmaker approach the near-ancient notion of "love at first sight" and "the blossoming of a boy-girl romance" with such purity and subtlety in direction and narration in years.

Zhang has unearthed a new acting gem in Zhou Dongyu, a young actress who may just be the next "Gong Li", that is if she continues to place herself under the director's radar for the next decade. Like Zhang Ziyi, who similarly made her debut in The Road Home, Zhou's acting is striking because she balances restrain with her natural ability to emote, the latter very potently displayed in the film's final act. Her chemistry with the male lead, played by Shawn Dou, who is also a newcomer, is strong enough for Zhang to heavily rely on to engage viewers.

As always for every Zhang film, the cinematography by Zhao Xiaoding (an Oscar nominee for House of Flying Daggers (2004)), is stunning, as the film captures and juxtaposes the misty villages with dusty urban buildings in great visual detail. Admirers of Zhang's visual style however would notice that Hawthorn Tree does not feature the flamboyant colors that characterize most of his works such as Raise the Red Lantern (1991), Hero (2002), and Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). Yes, the color palette is more muted here, and there is a reason for it.

I would think Zhang desires to paint a more poetic picture rather than being unnecessarily grandeur. After all, this is a film about the innocence of first love. With Under the Hawthorn Tree, Zhang has made a romance picture that is not only memorable for the star performance by Zhou, but also admirable for the film's artful simplicity.

GRADE: B+ (www.filmnomenon.blogspot.com) All rights reserved
Deodorant for your language

Deodorant for your language

In some restaurants, the chef goes out of his way to create complex dishes, with intricate combinations of tastes, colours and cooking styles. Others specialize in simple dishes, that stand out because of the quality of the ingredients. A simple pasta pesto can be a treat if it's made with the best olive oil, freshly grated parmesan and homegrown basil.

Under the Hawthorn Tree is like such a simple, but delicious dish. It's a straightforward story of a forbidden love, told in a basic way, without many frills. But Zhang Yimou is such a craftsman, that he doesn't need much to make a great movie.

The story is set during the cultural revolution, a period of ruthless oppression by the communist regime. The young girl Jing is being watched by the authorities because her father was a 'reactionary' and she risks losing her job as a teacher. During a trip to the countryside she falls in love with Sun. Her mother is afraid the affair will harm Jing's future career, and she forbids the two lovers to see each other.

Zhang Yimou tells the story in a simple way, focusing on the two lovers. He uses title cards to make the story go forward, a smart move because it prevents the script from having to explain too much. In this way, Zhang concentrates on the story of Jing and her lover Sun, and nothing else.

China in the seventies was a country where people led simple lives. Zhang emphasizes this by using simple props, like a goldfish key-chain made of yarn and beads, or a metal bowl with a special decoration. The hawthorn tree from the title also has a symbolic meaning, and in the very last image of the movie, when we see the tree blossoming, Zhang has an unexpected surprise that will make you smile.

The acting is wonderful. The two leads tell just as much with their eyes, their laughs and their expressions as with their words. Take for example the scene where Jing gives her goldfish to Sun, and the camera lingers on their faces to show us how they feel. Wonderful film making.

With this film, Zhang Yimou returns to his earlier style of film making, telling stories about the daily life in China. Under the Hawthorn Tree has more in common with his lesser-known films like Not One Less or The Road Home, than with his visually more spectacular films like The House of Flying Daggers, or even Raise The Red Lantern.

Some people may be disappointed by the slow story, in which nothing spectacular happens. But some of history's greatest film classics are slow and subtle. In a way, Under the Hawthorn Tree made me think of David Lean's classic Brief Encounter, another story about a forbidden love, that stands out because of the impeccable directing and acting.


With his many recent works that are nothing short of being opulent, and an Olympic project that was sheer spectacle, director Zhang Yimou still shows he has what it takes to take it down some notches in telling a simple, but no less emotional, tale of first love and romance, set during the Cultural Revolution in 60s and 70s China. It is this historical setting that perhaps piqued interest in bringing the Internet novel by Ai Mi onto the big screen, which lifts it beyond a typical romantic weepy.

Starring newcomer Zhou Dongyu - mind you Zhang Yimou has this knack of bringing new faces to the scene - and Shawn Dou as the star crossed lovers Jing and Sun respectively, the story tackles both the saccharine sweet moments that the duo have to steal away from society's prying eyes, and that of objections that come from Jing's mother. It's a time when Chairman Mao is very much revered, and the story takes aim at how his policies impacted the ordinary man on the street, giving rise to complications on survival matters, especially if you're deemed an intellect and are sent to be re-educated as with Jing's father, held as a political prisoner, and her teacher mom into becoming a school cleaner, earning extra through the folding 1000 envelopes for a single cent.

Constantly cautioned on her family's lack of status and being under the scrutiny of the powers that be, hopes are pinned on Jing as the next generation to lift their family's plight, since there are also two other younger siblings to take care of, rather than to spend time in romantic affairs of the heart with Sun. But undeterred, both parties forge on despite the rich and poor, have and have not divide, with Sun's more privileged background meant a lot more giving on materials on his end to ensure that his loved one makes it through what life has dished out to her under the current circumstances.

The story also doesn't shy away from the airing of grouses, which is probably quite unheard of and bordering on treason too, at least for its time when such statements get made in hushed tones. While one can be quite gung ho about it as proclaiming one's love for another, it's another ball game altogether when taking pot shots at an establishment. The secrecy of the lovers relationship provide ample moments for the usual tried and tested formula of stolen glances, growing into more daring meets involving some frolicking into a river, and moments of temptation when they're all but alone in a rented room.

Having the lovers meet when Jing was sent to the countryside as part of curricular and Sun being attached to a geological project meant the film can bask in a lot of lush landscapes brought out by beautiful cinematography. The art direction was top notch to make this period piece believable, and some of the best moments in the film occur when little things get detailed and time spent to showcase it, such as the amount of propaganda posters pasted on walls, as well as that of a rousing morale boosting song performed by the students with aplomb, even if some of them do not quite actually harbour the same sentiments as what's being sung out loud.

The fresh faced leads also breathed some life into what would be a typical narrative of a romantic weepy. Zhou Dongyu is excellent as the innocent and wide-eyed girl who takes on a very firm stance against her mother's wishes, putting a risk in jeopardizing her family's fate, and that of her own future, should she be found out. Shawn Dou plays his hunky character of the almost perfect man with that steely determination of wanting the best for his loved one, yet being presented with a dilemma of a request made by an elder, which I'm sure many guys out there would share in similar emotions if put in the same boat. At some angles he reminded me of a certain television actor in Singapore as well, but blessed with better acting ability.

In a way the story's quite sprawling, and not everything from the novel can be filmed without sacrificing pace, and this accounted for the very frequent use of intertitles to split the scenes into logical chapters. I would rank this as one of Zhang Yimou's more accessible films, and certainly one that shows he's more than capable to tackle a rather straightforward tale no lacking in powerful emotions and melodrama. Recommended!


Ever since Crouching Tiger, and Hidden Dragon received the Academy Award, directors in China start to make films that do not make sense, and do not tell a story, because they believed that confusing the westerners is the best way to get the Academy Award.

However, they all failed. There is one and only one Crouching Tiger, and Hidden Dragon, which most Chinese people do not even understand, but was acclaimed as one of the best films that represent China.

Among the losers is Mr. Yimou Zhang, the director of Under the Hawthorn Tree, a film, as you can see from the IMDb rating, did not receive a great response in the western world, but was vastly praised as one of the best movies in recent years.

Certainly, for people lack of sufficient knowledge and deep understanding of the Cultural Revolution and the opening policy thereafter, it is difficult, if not impossible, to appreciate the beauty of this film. But at least for Americans, think about the time when country music started to regain popularity. Think about the time when people are tired of the so-called modern way of life. Think about the time when you were tired from the craziness of metropolitan cities. Think about your high school sweetheart who you loved but never had sex with. You probably will have a little more understanding of the success of this film in China.

Jingqiu is a representation of the kind of sweetheart that a generation, or maybe generations, of Chinese men have been dreaming about. She is sweet. She is not hot in a sexual way like Megan Fox, but she is the one that a huge amount of Chinese men would like to marry. She is pure. She loves a man wholeheartedly. She is jealous, but in a cute way. She is strong when facing challenges.

And, it's been long since Chinese people had a film like this.

Today, with the fast economic development and westernization, Chinese people see sex scandals and money-centered relationships way too often. They started to get reminiscent of the past, when love was pure though life was hard. Jingqiu came to them at a perfect time to make them recollect the memory they had back to the good old times.

As a final comment, in a lot of ways, this film is just like "Country Road, Take Me Home."


Under The Hawthorn Tree is on the surface a simple love story, but indeed it is also a subtle political satire on the evils of the Communist Party.

1. At the beginning of the movie, the girl believes the red flowers represent the Communist heroes and talks about the "rumor" in the textbook. The ending shows us that it is only propaganda used to promote the heroes and the white flowers of the same tree remind the girl of her boyfriend, instead of the heroes. What's more, the tree which used to symbolize the heroes is now submerged by the water because of a new project. It implies that changes are inevitable as time goes by.

2. Why does the nurse say to the girl that the boy does not have an incurable disease? The Communist Party is probably trying to cover up the truth.

3. The girl is always expected to take the volleyball back during the game, which shows communism is not void of hierarchy.

4. The main characters' parents are also victims under Communist rule.

5. The Communist Party song gives me goose pimples. The Communist Party is even closer to you than your parents are?

6. People under Communist rule are deprived of freedom. The girl even dares not call the boy intimately, which leads to the regret.

On the whole, it is a poetic and beautifully shot love story with a charismatic cast with different nuances of facial expression. Despite the awkward silences showing the time shifts with written words, I am deeply impressed by the creative mixture of romance and political satire.


To many who have been director Zhang Yimou's loyal followers for decades, this film must feel like home coming. While I enjoyed and appreciated his earlier films from Red Sorghum (1987) on, I am no loyal follower, and therefore said "to hell with him" when he degenerated to making trash after trash, culminating in "The curse of the golden flower" (2006) in his vain and naïve hope for Oscar fame. On the other hand, I do welcome the return of Zhang in "Under the hawthorn tree", to pre-5th-generation directors' simplicity and honesty.

While adapted from a true story, what this movie shows us is certainly not something unique. More likely, there would have been countless such stories (consider the population of China) in the post-Cultural-Revolution era of the 70s, albeit perhaps with variations in details. Billed as "the cleanest romance in history", "Hawthorn" depicts how two "zhiqings" (young city-born "intellectuals") meet in a customary "sent down" (temporary deployment by school and government to the village to learn from peasants). The romance that budded in the idyllic setting continues back in the city. One obstacle is the girl's "rightist" background which means that she must be particularly careful to avoid being expelled from school (and subsequent teaching career) on any smallest excuse. With this the young lovers can cope, as they can afford to wait. But then, not unlike in some of the contrived and formulaic Korean romances in the 80s, terminal illness sets in. This is basically the simply plot.

This movie stands out in its refreshingly simple narration, with sequences preceded by quotations from the original book in a fashion similar to the silent movies. The quotations however give you the sense of actually reading the book. It is moving in the most natural way, without any of the sappy tear-jerking devises that swarm the Korean romances. Cinematography is almost mesmerising. Zhou Dongyu, the 17-year old girl who won the part over thousands of contestants, is without question absolutely deserving – fresh, intelligent and innocent both, and unspoilt by professional training. Shawn Dou is also good, but his character is less developed – pure perfection to the extent of being almost angelic.


The truth is there are very little movies that make me cry and this one is probably the best. Maybe it's because I love Asian films, especially Chinese, because they have a certain sadness and drama into them. The description of the movie is a poor example of the greatness of emotion that the movie reaches, for sure. The movie tells the story of an innocent young love that ends tragically. But the freshness of the two young people that are in love and happy, blends beautifully with the restrictions of the society and the fear of a bad future. The optimism of the lovers leaves you with a bitter sweet feeling in the end, when the movie concludes. I wasn't sure about the black text sequences that often pop up to provide a boost to the film, but eventually they turn the movie into a novel and you don't even notice them any more. Nice performances from the actors, full of emotion. So, 7 out of 10.


The harsh realities of the 1970's cultural revolution in China are moved into soft focus by awesome cinematography, slow moving scenes and superb acting.

The story is beautifully told, and although the ending is hinted at from an early point in the movie, it is nevertheless sad and moving.

The grey and monotone scenery is punctuated with the bright colors of the volleyball uniforms, the red jacket, and of course the hawthorn berries which are all symbols of the couples' evolving romance.

The proximity of the town to the village to the hospital, and the ferry versus the bus was a bit hard to understand. And how Sun managed to spend some much time in the Jing's town.


Zhang Yimou reportedly auditioned 10,000 girls in search of untarnished, innocent (old school Chinese) beauty when looking to cast the lead in this film.

"These young folks are looking worse and worse with each generation. Pretty girls obviously aren't marrying handsome guys these days. They're hooking up with this sugar daddy and that old lonely bachelor with money. No wonder the kids are lacking in the looks department.

When you look at any picture of young Chinese women from the 60s and 70s period, you'll almost always have an eager face that radiates innocent beauty looking back at you. This is now a thing of the past, young folks rarely have that innocence about them any more."

I read that before seeing this film and it put an awful lot of pressure on the young actress who passed the audition. She's cute, but she's no Gong Li. She's hardly a Zhang Ziyi either, but that may have more to do with the way the film is assembled than anything else.

I'm a BIG fan of Zhang Yimou's common people films. I love his nostalgic looks at the past and his thinly veiled commentaries on the Cultural Revolution and cultural change in general, in China. But Zhang seems to have tossed this one off before finishing a proper script. Title cards are used to fill in narrative gaps (red flag) and to allow for fade-to-black wistful shots of the girl biting her lower lip, pouting, and looking like the innocent beauty Zhang craves. I think the need for fade-to-black wistful shots of the girl biting her lower lip and pouting suggests he didn't find it.

The film is adapted from a popular mainland novel which was based on a true story set during the Cultural Revolution. There's lots of good stuff and great attention to detail concerning the period, and it satisfied my desire for that. There's a pretty standard love story, complete with terminal disease tugs at your heart strings, plopped on top of it all. And not just a love story, but a Japanese styled "pure love" love story. That part is fine as well. A little Korean style melodrama mixed with some Japanese pure love stylings works for me most of the time. So why didn't I love this movie?

Honestly, the title cards bothered me. Not just because the girl bit her lip and pouted going into many of them (which got on my nerves, as well), but because they gave the film an unfinished quality. It's difficult to remain completely faithful to a novel when adapting it for the big screen, and just as voice-over narration can be used successfully to fill in narrative gaps, or it can stick out like a sore thumb, so go the title cards.

"Sun told Jing that he would be waiting for her upon her return"

Sticks out like a sore thumb.

To be fair, dancer and senior high school girl, Zhou Dongyu, from Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province, with "eyes that are clear like the mountain springs", is pretty fetching as the young girl who is sent to re-education camp and falls in love with an upwardly mobile land prospector. The film's theme of with whom and when one falls in love being up to the discretion of Communist Party leaders is far more tragic than the terminal disease. Shawn Dou Xiao is outrageously handsome and appealing as the young man who falls in love with her.

Under the Hawthorne Tree is delicately shot and filled with wonderful period detail. My final waffling verdict is: It's a beautiful and tragic love story with some distracting blemishes. If Zhang Yimou had spent as much time fleshing out a proper screenplay as he did finding a girl to play the lead character he might have produced another masterpiece. I recommend the film to those who like pure love stories.