Hou Hsiao-hsien's "The Green, Green Grass of Home" (1983)

The Green, Green Grass of Home is Hou's third feature and his cinema is already sublime.

A story that oscillates between love and hopelessness, it tells lots of unrelated things in the life of a school teacher in a remote village. At first look there is no narrative in a usual sense, like many other great Hou films, but somehow every scene follows the previous one organically, gradually building up an expanding view of life, and culminating in an ode to nature, to empathy, and to the human symbiosis with other living beings around. The clearly symbolic shots of humans releasing fish back to the river (as opposed to killing them by electricity) are near climactic, while the film ends with the shots of a train running, a departure, open-ended...

If there is one film whose politics I agree with wholeheartedly, it is this one.

Compared to Hou's later masterpieces, The Green, Green Grass of Home is a lesser work for sure. Hou doesn't seem as free with his camera (not much play with focus, for example) and the plot isn't as ambiguous, as "narrativeless", as his best work.


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