Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien
Nov. 8 screening free for UCSD students, faculty, and staff
Best Director, 2015 Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection, 2015 Toronto International Film Festival
The King of Kophen’s bluebird
failed to sing for three years.
As a child, Nie Yinniang was separated from her betrothed in a political transaction. Raised to become an assassin, she perched on the margins, eyeing her kill while experiencing the world and its turbulence from a quiet exile. But worlds necessarily collide when she’s assigned to eliminate the man she was once slated to marry, and Yinniang’s reflective view of the world must turn pensively onto herself.
One day the Queen remarked,
“Birds only sing to their own kind;
Set the bird before a mirror!”
Yinniang is a classic Hou Hsiao-hsien character, like the lovers in Dust in the Wind watching life gust by. Yinniang is also a quintessential figure of wuxia, a perpetual outsider weighing ethics in a world of violence. What makes THE ASSASSIN so unusual as a martial arts film is precisely what makes it such an essential entry in the genre. Never before has violence been so counterbalanced by a force with the same cinematic potency: a beauty so luminous on its surfaces, so exquisite in its textures, that it rips the characters and audience from genre and leaves them to wander a love story in stunned silence.
The King heeded the Queen’s advice.
The bluebird saw its own image
and sang of its sadness
until it expired.
The spiritual loneliness permeating THE ASSASSIN takes expressive shape in a film that is unmistakably Hou’s, yet feels unlike any other in film history. THE ASSASSIN doesn’t just seek accurate Tang Dynasty props and costumes; it wants the air, the intoxicants that lead the characters to find their personal peace, the space that reminds us that even assassins breathe, wait, and feel in stillness the consequences of the choices they make about who they are committed to become. –Brian Hu
Sponsored by: Wawanesa Insurance