16 user 121 critic

Mountains May Depart (2015)

Shan he gu ren (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 30 October 2015 (China)
1:56 | Trailer
The life of Tao, and those close to her, is explored in three different time periods: 1999, 2014, and 2025.


Zhangke Jia (as Jia Zhang-ke)


Zhangke Jia (as Jia Zhang-ke)
25 wins & 39 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Tao Zhao ... Shen Tao (as Zhao Tao)
Yi Zhang ... Zhang Jinsheng (as Zhang Yi)
Jing Dong Liang Jing Dong Liang ... Liang Jangjung aka Liangzi (as Liang Jingdong)
Zijian Dong ... Zhang Daole aka Dollar (as Dong Zijian)
Sylvia Chang ... Mia
Sanming Han ... Liangzi's friend
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Patrick Harvey Patrick Harvey ... Train Passenger
Russell Lambe Russell Lambe ... Golfer
Lu Liu ... Liang's Wife
Min Liu Min Liu
Zishan Rong ... Zhang Daole aka Dollar (Child)
Anna Sasson Anna Sasson ... Travel clerk
Yee Yang Yee Yang ... Travel clerk
Learn more

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China, 1999. Childhood friends Liangzi and Zhang are both in love with Tao, the town beauty. Tao eventually decides to marry the wealthier Zhang. They soon have a son he names Dollar... From China to Australia, the lives, loves, hopes and disillusions of a family over two generations in a society changing at breakneck speed. Written by Ipsith

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Swiss visa # 1010.887. See more »


The young boy who plays Tao's son in 2014 is also part of the crowd of children that watches her perform at the new year's celebrations in 1999. See more »


Mia: The hardest thing about love is caring.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title appears more than forty minutes after the beginning of the movie. See more »


Take Care
Performed by Sally Yeh
See more »

User Reviews

Both joyous & heart-wrenching, symbolic and founded in human relationships
20 October 2016 | by ericbobgSee all my reviews

Read full review here: http://bit.ly/2eo9O3d

Somewhere in Mountains May Depart there's a quote I can't recall that says, effectively, you can't spend your entire life with any one other person. While this may not be categorically true, if you think through the eras of a life - as a baby, toddler, childhood, teenager, young adult, middle-age, and so on - it is unlikely that any one person will be a part of your daily interactions throughout. Considering that, it can be true that the impact someone has on your life may be greater than the portion of time you spend with them. Through a handful of characters whose lives intertwine over three distinct periods of time - 1999, 2014, & 2025 - Chinese-born director Jia Zhangke explores and rejoices in the emotional resonance of our relationships in Mountains May Depart.

The three epochs of the film are each brilliantly conceived aesthetically to provide a subtle atmospheric guide to the scenes they are home to within the story. The boxy, more realistic and grainy style of the 1999 sequence - designed to match actual documentary footage the director and his cinematographer shot from the same period - is a little more raw, like the youthful emotions the characters experience in their mid-20's. Here we have a love triangle where our central character, Tao, is confronted with a choice between the brash, rich, and charming Jinsheng and the humble coal-miner Liangzi. The 2014 section is a wider aspect ratio with a higher quality, yet natural visual reflecting Tao's middle-aged experience. Life's lessons have provided a bit more perspective and the muted colors are like some of her dreams that haven't worked out as planned. She's divorced and facing a continental estrangement from her 7-year old son. A fully widescreen format with an artificial, over-developed HD quality evokes a 2025 that is equally more advanced and more separated from the past. This is the backdrop as Tao's son Dollar has to learn why he feels unsettled in a life he's done little to create for himself. Here, in a bit of an Oedipal twist, he develops a relationship with a surrogate mother of sorts that reminds the youth, now so far removed from his past that he can't even speak his first language, where he came from. For the first time of his own volition he makes the choice to search and reach backwards so that he can progress and grow. It hurts. You don't know if he achieves what he's reaching for but the important thing is that he chooses to do it.

Zhangke uses artifacts from his own life, from pop-culture, and of a more universal nature to serve as totems for emotional relationships that bridge the difference timelines. In 1999 Tao is young and bright, greeting each moment with a smile. She rejoices in music and food that bring her joy. Later in 2014 she faces losing everyone that is or has been important to her and these things become tools for holding on to what she's lost. A divorce left her with lots of money and a lost custody battle for her young son, whose father is abandoning all remnants of their culture and taking him to Australia. After panicking, Tao resolves to make the most impact she can on the impressionable and hungry heart of her little boy. She prepares several tokens for him to keep close through taste, touch, sound and feeling, as they will become further away than ever. The keys she gives Dollar are based on the director's own mother doing the same for him. It's possible she may never know the impact they have in his life but they become figuratively the keys to his unlocking his own freedom (see what I did there??) as he comes of age in 2025. These tokens used throughout the film, and especially two key pieces of music and the light-touch score from Yoshihiro Hanno, immediately have the same effect on the viewer each time they are re-introduced to signify a key relationship and emotion whose origin may be otherwise untraceable to the characters.

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Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]


China | France | Japan


Chinese | Mandarin | Cantonese | English

Release Date:

30 October 2015 (China) See more »

Also Known As:

Mountains May Depart See more »

Filming Locations:

Fenyang, Shanxi, China See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,550, 14 February 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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