13 user 16 critic

A Time to Live and a Time to Die (1985)

Tóngnián wangshì (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.


Hsiao-Hsien Hou
8 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »




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


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

User Reviews

My favourite Hao's film.
8 November 2000 | by DrankardSee all my reviews

Although I think The Puppetmaster is the real best masterpiece of Hao, Time to live and the time to die is the one I love most. Despite the implication and background of Taiwan history in the film, as I am not so clear about it and not close to me, the story about growing-up is the reason that the film move me so much. The trip of the main kid "ar Ha" and his grandma become the warmest and most unforgettable part of the film. By the way, I think the relatively slow and quiet style of Hao extremely suit the story of rural and history background, much better than modern city background.

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Official Sites:

International Film Circuit




Mandarin | Hakka

Release Date:

1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Time to Live and a Time to Die See more »

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 full technical specs »

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