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In the Heat of the Sun (1994)

Yang guang can lan de ri zi (original title)
| Drama, Romance | 1994 (China)
A story of four teenagers during Cultural Revolution in Beijing.


Wen Jiang


Wen Jiang, Shuo Wang (story "Wild Beasts")
9 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Yu Xia ... Ma Xiaojun
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Shaobo Dai Shaobo Dai ... Yang Gao
Hua Fang Hua Fang ... Old general
Xiaogang Feng ... Mr. Hu
Le Geng ... Liu Yiku (as Geng Le)
Dong Han Dong Han ... Ma Xiaojun (child)
Wen Jiang ... Ma Xiaojun (adult)
Bin Liu Bin Liu ... Liu Sitian (adult)
Xiaoning Liu Xiaoning Liu ... Liu Yiku (adult)
Jing Ning ... Mi Lan
Nan Shang Nan Shang ... Liu Sitian
Gaowa Siqin ... Mother
Hong Tao ... Yu Beipei
Shuo Wang Shuo Wang ... Small-time conman
Xueqi Wang ... Father


MA Xiaojun, a teenager boy, enjoying 100% freedom, grew up brutally in Beijing in the special days of cultural revolution. With nothing to do in schools, he began to sneak into strangers' homes using a self-made key. One day, he opened a door, entering the house of MI Lan. Without any notice, Mi came back home early, making MA nowhere to hide but under the bed. He saw the well-shaped young girl changing and naturally, as a teenager boy, he fell into the puppy love. Without any agenda or expectation, he tried to court the girl... Time passed away, young boys and girls changed. When looking back at the days of puberty, it seems the Sun shined strongly everyday. And the heat of the sun, though far fading, can still be felt in the memories of the people of that generation. Long story short, it is a Chinese version of the sorrows of younger Werther. Written by Xuguang Deng

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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China | Hong Kong



Release Date:

1994 (China) See more »

Also Known As:

Yangguang Canlan de Tizi See more »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (digital restored) | (rough cut) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Ranked number 98 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018. See more »

Alternate Versions

Ma Xiaojun's 3-minute dream was cut from the final/official Chinese DVD version, but was available on one bootleg VHS version around '95-'97. Many characters only can be seen in this dream still appear in the ending credit (e.g., 4 fake Japanese soldiers, etc.). See more »


Features The Last Roman (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

A Time to Live in Dream
17 December 2005 | by numbnutSee all my reviews

This is, by all means, one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.

In spite of the generational gap between us who were born in the 80s and the director who went through their puberty in the 60s, it's a portrait and poem of memory and childhood, regardless of age matters. It is physically impossible to be absolutely honest and draw back memories in the exact realistic way. So we all start telling our own stories mixed with both facts and imaginations.

This film actually reminds me of Giuseppe Tornatore's masterpiece Malèna. The beginning of puberty desire for females, become the fundamental essence of both movies. Both boys had their final releases, with endings filled with both bitterness and sweetness. I believe that every single male audience who watched these two films can recall their dim but lively memory of the curiosity for girls at that age. Amazing...as a Chinese myself, I did find myself more involved with Jiang Wen's piece though.

The cinematography, from Gu Changwei, who's also known for his Berlin Silver Bear winning direction of Peacock, simply stands in the realm of perfection. The yellowish and blurring photographic construction of scenarios generates the nostalgic theme of the movie, and helps the story become more beautiful as it has already been.

The black&white ending, FANTASTIC. A truly imaginative and creative conclusion. Apart from the ironic contrast of the hierarchical statuses among the 'gang' members comparing to their old days, the final line shot by the retarded guy actually made me think. We are becoming materially and intellectually richer and cleverer as we grows, but should those childishness and innocently pure emotions from our childhood be cherished? Days 'in the heat of the sun' has not only symbolize memory, but also speak for the pureness and simple innocence. We are all 'fools', as we enter the kingdom of adulthood, we will inevitably lose our naive characteristics.

Life is always about gaining and losing at the same time, isn't it?

Politically and culturally speaking, Jian Wen did not focus much of his storytelling on the miseries and depressions resulted from Mao's Cultural Revolution. Again, this is not a realistic representation of the concrete historical notion, it's a artistic craft tributing to memories. My parents, who shared the similar historical experience with Jiang Wen, did not acknowledge this film as a proper description of their childhood when they saw it. "It's too romantic to be true." as they said to me. However, they both admitted that the film did reflect their own fantasies of an ideal past. Every time I ask them about what happened with their childhood, they can only give me a vague framework. A lot of the times, the recalling always come with a particular item, like shoes, football, soy sauce, Mao's red book...

"Sometimes, maybe a kind of sound and a stream of smell, can bring you back to the truth." as Jiang Wen said in the voice-over in the film. It's not only for people grew up in the 60s, but also for everybody. Funny as it is, memories can cheat on you and rationalize you in the same filed.

A Time to Live in Dream, this Beach Boy classic accidentally pops into my head. "The child's joyous tear, with innocence he has no fear, now I know what love really is..." Days with brightly shining and heating sun conspire to create a time to live in dream, what a marvel!

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