Hsimeng jensheng (The Puppetmaster) (1993)

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Movie Info

This Hou Hsiao Hsien masterpiece is a portrait of the childhood and adolescence of octogenarian Taiwanese puppet master and actor Li T'ien-lu, who narrates the film both off-screen and on-screen. In this second installment of a trilogy on Taiwanese life in the 20th century (City of Sadness is the first and Good Men, Good Women is the third), Li's development as an artist and husband plays out between 1908 and 1945 under the heavy hand of Japanese rule, paralleling the development of Taiwan's own political consciousness. The movie deftly shifts from a dramatization of Li's life, to Li speaking directly to the camera about his experiences, to his puppet performances in a semi-documentary style that recalls The Thin Blue Line (1988). Here, as in most of his films, Hou uses long takes and off-screen space to create a complex, richly layered meditation on personal, artistic, and national aspirations. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Hsimeng jensheng (The Puppetmaster)

All Critics (8)

[Demonstrates] a profound and original sense of motion pictures as a way of exploring the passage of time.

Mar 28, 2017 | Full Review…

Hou Hsiao-hsien remains a master at conveying movement, progression, and a sense of the inexorable rotations of the wheel of time.

Sep 19, 2005 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

The figures of the puppetmaster's personal history become like his puppets, performing a repeated, stylized version of the past on a small stage.

Jul 1, 2004 | Full Review…

Meshing reality and fiction, Hou has created a groundbreaking masterpiece.

Jul 23, 2003 | Rating: 5/5

Hou's film is a work of art that deliberately studies the gray in between the black and white political messages...

Nov 2, 2001 | Rating: B | Full Review…

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