An intoxicating, time-bending experience bathed in the golden glow of oil lamps and wreathed in an opium haze, this gorgeous period reverie by Hou Hsiao-hsien traces the romantic intrigue, jealousies, and tensions swirling around four late-nineteenth-century Shanghai “flower houses,” where courtesans live confined to a gilded cage, ensconced in opulent splendor but forced to work to buy back their freedom. Among the regular clients is the taciturn Master Wang (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), whose relationship with his longtime mistress (Michiko Hada) is roiled by a perceived act of betrayal. Composed in a languorous procession of entrancing long takes, Flowers of Shanghai evokes a vanished world of decadence and cruelty, an insular universe where much of the dramatic action remains tantalizingly offscreen—even as its emotional fallout registers with quiet devastation.
New 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New introduction by critic Tony Rayns
Beautified Realism,a new documentary by Daniel Raim and Eugene Suen on the making of the film, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Mark Lee Ping-bing, producer and editor Liao Ching-sung, production designer Hwarng Wern-ying, and sound recordist Tu Duu-chih
Excerpts from a 2015 interview with Hou, recorded as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oral History Projects
English subtitle translation by Rayns
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Jean Ma and a 2009 interview with Hou conducted by scholar Michael Berry