IMDb > What Time Is It There? (2001)
Ni na bian ji dian
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What Time Is It There? (2001) More at IMDbPro »Ni na bian ji dian (original title)

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What Time Is It There? -- Open-ended Trailer from Wellspring Media
What Time Is It There? -- HV Post


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7.3/10   3,449 votes »
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Release Date:
26 September 2001 (France) See more »
When a young street vendor with a grim home life meets a woman on her way to Paris, they forge an instant connection... See more » | Add synopsis »
11 wins & 8 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A showcase of the power of Asian cinema See more (26 total) »


  (in credits order)

Kang-sheng Lee ... Hsiao-kang
Shiang-chyi Chen ... Shiang-chyi
Yi-Ching Lu ... Mother
Tien Miao ... Father
Cecilia Yip ... Woman in Paris
Chao-jung Chen ... Man in Subway Station
Guei Tsai ... Prostitute
Arthur Nauzyciel ... Man at Phone Booth
David Ganansia ... Man at Restaurant

Jean-Pierre Léaud ... Jean-Pierre / Man at the Cemetery

Directed by
Ming-liang Tsai 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ming-liang Tsai 
Pi-ying Yang 

Produced by
Chinlin Hsieh .... associate producer
Laurence Picollec .... producer
Bruno Pésery .... executive producer
Cinematography by
Benoît Delhomme 
Film Editing by
Sheng-Chang Chen 
Production Design by
Tim Yip  (as Kam Tim Yip)
Production Management
Michel Imbert .... location production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ming-tai Wang .... assistant director
Vincent Wang .... first assistant director
Art Department
Bernard Bridon .... property master
Sound Department
Shiang-Chu Tang .... sound
Duu-Chih Tu .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Julie Conte .... video assistant
Arnaud Gabriel .... second assistant camera
Xavier Tauveron .... first assistant camera
Casting Department
Marie-Sylvie Caillierez .... extras casting
Editorial Department
Magalie Léonard .... color grader
Other crew
Harold Manning .... location scouting
Laurence Picollec .... financial director

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Ni na bian ji dian" - Taiwan (original title)
"What Time Is It Over There?" - International (English title) (informal title)
See more »
116 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.See more »
Movie Connections:
References Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)See more »


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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful.
A showcase of the power of Asian cinema, 4 November 2008
Author: Kevin Schwoer from United States

What Time Is It There at a first glance is a boring, frustrating and complex puzzle of broken narratives which leave the viewer struggling to stay out of a sleepy haze and focus long enough to draw some sort of cinematic conclusion to an otherwise ambiguous film. Yet once all the amateur film goers and the rest of ADHD ridden America, the true film goers can marvel at a cinematic masterpiece, so far on the spectrum of complexity that it almost goes full circle to simplicity. Full circle being the key phrase here.

Much like other Asian filmmakers, Tsai deals with alienation, loss, and a search for something. The story of the film is simple: a boy's father dies and he and his mother are forced to deal with the loss. If you look for anything, story wise beyond this, you must look harder. The film shows how these two individuals deal with loss through their own idiosyncrasies, yet they both are getting at the same thing. Reincarnation. The young man meets a woman who wants to buy his watch and after some prodding, he relinquishes it. Whether it is because of her or not, he becomes obsessed with turning back the clocks he encounters, as if he is literally trying to turn back time itself. It even becomes quite comical at times when he goes to all sorts of lengths to turn back the clock. While his mother on the other hand deals with reincarnation in the literal sense through her religion. She rigorously practices her faith in hopes of bringing back her husband. In fact she becomes so obsessed with it that she believes he is trying to contact her and won't hear otherwise. Both contrasting view points on reincarnation show the different beliefs on religion and science not fully marrying the film to one of the ideas.

The imagery that comes with these practices is astounding. Tsai has shown that he is the master of mise en scene. Each scene has the camera set up in one position and doesn't move or cut until the end of the scene. The eye is allowed to move freely about the depth of the image while finding the imagery Tsai leaves behind as clues. He uses a water wheel in a mall, a Ferris wheel, and clock faces to show the visual interpretation of turning back the clock. The final image of the film is the Ferris wheel spinning counter clockwise leaving a retrospective idea in the viewers mind.

Truly this film tackles the idea of reincarnation and the dealing with loss and alienation so masterfully that any who attempt to address the same subject matter will just feel like a weak attempt. Tsai's What Time Is It There truly is a simple story with complex themes and visuals that is unlike any film going experience that should be appreciated for its content and relevance and not its entertainment value.

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