Spring in a Small Town

Spring in a Small Town

Spring in a Small Town is a black-and-white Chinese film released in 1948, written by Li Tianji and directed by Fei Mu, a director known for having great empathy for women and reflecting that in his films. It was produced and funded by Wenhua Film Company, whose great financial deficit at the time led Wenhua to produce Spring in a Small Town on a low budget, with a minimalist plot and setting which required only five characters.


Taking place in a ruined family compound in a small town in the Jiangnan region after the Sino-Japanese War, the film tells the story of the once prosperous Dai family. The film opens with Yuwen (Wei Wei) walking alone along the ruins of the city wall, narrating the slow-paced circular nature of her life. The husband and patriarch, Liyan (Shi Yu) is ill, and wallowing in the miserable reality of his family's loss. Symptomatic of his illness and depression, his marriage to Yuwen has long been rendered loveless, though both remain dutiful spouses to one another. Liyan spends his days in the courtyard expressing nostalgia at a better time. Meanwhile, Liyan's young teenage sister Xiu (Zhang Hongmei), too young to remember the past, stays cheerful and playful in the ruins of their home. Lao Huang (Cui Chaoming) is an old servant of the Dai family who faithfully remains with the Dai family. The Dai family still manages to live in an unexciting peace, but this is challenged suddenly when an unexpected visitor comes to their home.