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A Time to Live, a Time to Die (1985)

Tong nien wang shi (original title)
| Biography, Drama | 1988 (USA)
The semi-autobiographical film on director Hou Hsiao-Hsien's childhood and adolescence, when he was growing up in Taiwan, living through the deaths of his father, mother and grandmother.
8 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Chia-bao Chang
Neng Chang
Chih-Chen Chen
Han-wen Chen
Shu-Fang Chen
Bao-te Chiang
Tung-hung Chou
Shu-fen Hsin ...
Hsiao's love interest
Hsiang-ping Hu
Tung-lai Kao
Chung-Wen Lin
Kuo-bao Liu
Cheng-ye Lo
Shun-lin Lo


This depiction of childhood and adolescence draws heavily from the filmmaker's own boyhood. Like many of their compatriots, Hou's family moved from the mainland to Taiwan in 1948 and was unable ever to return. The film focuses on the widening generation gap in a family cut off from its cultural heritage. Written by International Film Circuit <ifcplanet@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama


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Release Date:

1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Time to Live and a Time to Die  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente) |

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


Featured in Naamsaang-neuiseung (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

An atmospherically dense film
16 April 2005 | by See all my reviews

Besides being a great film about an emerging new generation in Taiwan after the war, this film is also full of authentic atmosphere.

There is the Japanese style house the family lives in; Japanese sandals, nowadays still worn by some elder people. Ah-ha and his granny eating water ice after he passed the entrance exam for middle school - the ice machine with it's big wheel in the foreground. The only street lamp, the kids play under in the evenings; the games they play in the streets. The haircut of school children - boys three centimeters, girls three centimeters below their ears. Their school uniforms, some of them still the same in Fengshan today (believe me). Gangs fighting with water melon knifes and the little red police jeep.

The film is close to real everyday life in Taiwan at that time, although you won't find much of it there nowadays.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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