Hou Hsia-Hsien 10: Contexts A – The Husband’s Secret/ Zhang fu de mi mi (Lin Tuan-qiu, Taiwan, 1960)


A treat. Part of a new series of mid-century Taiwanese films made available in wonderful restorations through the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute. We are discussing the film as a context for, as a way of better understanding the cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien. But we can’t help but discuss other elements that crop up: the career of Lin Tuan-qiu, the uses of melodrama, the extraordinary cinematography by Chen Cheng-fan and equally amazing lighting by Chen Tian-rong; we discuss how the film is a critique of patriarchy whilst also exploiting the visual aspects of women sinning; the films seems both visually sophisticated but also an example of what many will see as crude stereotypical melodrama, and fascinating for that. It’s a plot-laden film, full of twists, and totally engrossing. We discuss the uses of flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks; the voice-over elements by a narrator that seems omniscient and can’t quite be placed; we critique the choppiness of the editing whilst praising some of the on-location shooting. We see clear roots in theatre and theatrical forms of acting and delight in the uses of on-location shooting. A weird and fascinating combination of cine-literate sophistication with a kind of crudity of acting and mode which we highly recommend not only to those interested in Taiwanese Cinema but also those interested in melodrama. The podcast can be listened below:

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546


Melodramatic Mode: I have captured images which lovers of melodrama will see as archetypal to the genre in terms of image, situation, dialogue, plot. It’s like a primer and worth looking through for the sub-titles alone:


We have also included the following clips that are referred to in the podcast:

Rape and Misfortune:

Pimping and Memory:

Memory of Bliss:

Melodramatic Revelations 1:

Melodramatic Revelations2:

Arrangements for the baby:

Baby 2 -Epilogue

In addition to the above:

Richard has found this wonderful link by By Ming-yeh & T. Rawnsley on ‘An Introduction to a Taiyupian Filmmaker, Lin Tuanqiu’: Lin-Tuanqiu-article

-This is the review he mentions in the podcast. 

-This one discusses the cinematography and also the Japanese and Western influences on the film

-Detailed article on Lin Tuan Qiu https://taiyupian.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Lin-Tuanqiu-article.pdf

-The overview Richard  mentions from the Taiwan Film Festival

…and we did find the names of the cinematographer and lighting designer (in the credits, duh!).

There’s a wonderful introduction to Taiyupian Cinema: an introduction to Taiwan-language cinema on youtube here:


José Arroyo

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