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.
- BFI re-release trailer
- A Small Town in China (1933, 9 mins): an intimate portrait of community life in an unidentified Chinese town
- China (Paul Rotha, 1942, 15 mins): a documentary introducing 1940s China to Western viewers and denouncing its Japanese invaders
- This is China (1946, 9 mins): a fascinating compilation of scenes showing diversity and disparity in 1940s China
- Fully illustrated booklet