Watch Summer Palace
- 2 hr 20 min
Summer Palace is a 2006 Chinese movie directed by Lou Ye. The movie narrates the life story of a young woman named Yu Hong, played by Hao Lei, who falls in love with a boy named Zhou Wei, portrayed by Guo Xiaodong. The movie depicts their passionate love affair, which develops against the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and ends with the 2000 flood in Beijing. The movie begins in the 1980s when Yu Hong is a high school student preparing for her college entrance exam. She meets Zhou Wei, a young man from another city, in a swimming pool, and they immediately click. Despite being from different backgrounds, they fall for each other, and their love blossoms rapidly. The movie takes the viewers down the memory lane to the era of student uprising and political unrest that took place in China in the late 1980s. Yu Hong and Zhou Wei actively participate in the student protests, and their love strengthens amid all the chaos around them. They share a love for music, and Yu Hong dreams of pursuing a career as a classical musician. Still, she eventually realizes that music isn't her true passion, and it's filmmaking that she wants to pursue. The movie covers the social and the cultural transformations that take place in China during the 1990s. It portrays the growth of Shanghai as an economic hub and the rising materialism that engulfs the country. But amidst all this, the central characters Yu Hong and Zhou Wei struggle to keep their relationship stable. They are in a long-distance relationship, and Zhou's infidelities strain their relationship severely. As the movie progresses, it paints a broad picture of the Chinese society in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. It highlights the growing disparity between the educated youth and the peasantry, and the disillusionment and loss of ideals of the youth. Yu Hong and Zhou Wei's relationship also undergo a series of ups and downs, primarily due to Zhou's growing distance and his infidelities. The movie's tone turns somber as it nears the end, with the 2000 flood in Beijing serving as a metaphor for the emotional turmoil that Yu Hong undergoes. The Beijing flood and its aftermath serve as the backdrop for the movie's final scenes, highlighting the impermanence of relationships and the transience of human life. Summer Palace features strong performances by the lead actors. Hao Lei's portrayal of Yu Hong is nuanced and layered, and the movie is held together by her performance. Guo Xiaodong also delivers a powerful performance, immersing himself into the role of Zhou Wei. Xueyun Bai, who plays Ruo Gu, Yu Hong's college roommate, shines in her brief appearance. The movie's production value is top-notch, and the visuals are stunning. Lou Ye's direction is delicate and sullen, emphasizing the melancholy of the movie's central characters. The movie's soundtrack, composed by JoÌhann JoÌhannsson, is soulful and elevates the emotional impact of the scenes. Overall, Summer Palace is a poignant and compelling movie that showcases the struggles of young people in China as they try to navigate through their lives and overcome various challenges. The movie captures the zeitgeist of an era and highlights the complexity of human relationships that transcend time and geography. The movie is a must-watch for anyone interested in Chinese cinema or anyone who enjoys engaging romantic dramas.