A Time to Live, a Time to Die

Synopsis: This depiction of childhood and adolescence draws heavily from the filmmaker's own boyhood. Like many of their compatriots, Hou's family moved from the mainland to Taiwan in 1948 and was unable ever to return. The film focuses on the widening generation gap in a family cut off from its cultural heritage.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Hsiao-Hsien Hou
  8 wins & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
138 min

The Time to Live and the Time to Die

This film

is some memories from my youth

particularly impressions

of my father

"My father came from Mei County,

Canton Province"

In 1947

on the 40th day after my birth

He led a ball team to Guangzhou for

the Provincial Games

He was the Educational Secretary

of Mei County

In Guangzhou he met an old classmate

"from Chung-shan University,

Li Kuai"

"At the time, Li Kuai was"

the mayor of Taichung City

He asked if my father

would move to Taiwan

to be his Head Secretary

One year later

my father wrote home saying

"This is a good place.

There's tap water. "

He asked my mother to bring

the family over

In 1949

My father was transferred

to Taipei Educational Bureau

as the Supervisor

We lived in Hsin-chu at the time

Because of the humidity up north

My father suffered from asthma

When I was in the first grade

We moved to Fengshan in the south

for the sake of my father's health

My grandmother was always

wrapping silver papers

She said the paper money was

to be used in heaven

She was already over 80 at the time

My father was very pious

"Every time we had dinners

he wouldn't start to eat

until grandmother came

"But everyday at meal time,"

grandma would be out to looking

for me

Grandmother was especially good

to me

Because when I was little

a fortune teller said

I was to become a great official

"My nickname in Fengshan, "Ah-ha"

came from grandmother's calling of me

Ah-ha-gu! Ah-ha-gu! Ah-ha-gu! Ah-ha-gu!


Did you take the $5 in the purse?

I don't know

"You don't know.

If not you, who else?"

Did you take it?


You're lying

Tell me

Where is it?

I didn't take it


How dare you! Come down here

Your feet are so dirty

Get down!

Where is it?

It's gone

It's gone

I buried it here. Someone took it


Where is it?

I buried it here

and put a brick over it

Still lying?

It's true! I'm not lying

What kind of man will you turn out

to be after growing up

Here. Over here!


"Grandma, where are you going?"

Go back

To find Ah-ha-gu

I can't recognize the road



She hasn't paid me yet

Hasn't paid you yet?

Go get it at the house!

Don't read that while you eat

Go over it once before

and another time after dinner


Frog with curry

"Lai"is come"

"Chu"is go"

"Wo bu chi"

I don't know

"Yi ke yang chien,"one dollar"


Frog with curry

Frog with curry

"Lai" is come"

"Chu" is go"

"Wo bu chi"

I don't know

"Yi ke yang chien," one dollar"

If you were not a good man in your past

life, your son will be your daughter-in-law

What do you know?

Ah-hsiao! Ah-hsiao

Bath time

You go. I'll wash them

Ah-hsiao! It's okay

You'll find a way when you're older


This is mine

I have more than you do

"Ah-ha, Ah-ha-gu"

Come here

Grandma's going to take you back

to the mainland

I don't want to go

Ah-ha! Ah-ha! Big cock!

Alright. Alright. It's my turn

You're dead

"Ah-ha, save it"


First class


Don't bother us if you can't play

Don't let him in

What do you cry for?

Ignore him

"Come on, come. It's my turn"

In an air battle today over

the Matsu Strait

Our courageous Air Force pilots

downed 5 Communist MIG 17's

and damaged two others

This glorious combat will serve

as the greatest gift

to all of our country men

on this Double Tenth National Day

"Despite being outnumbered,

our courageous Air Force

pilots were determined in combat"

Glorifying the spirit

of revolutionary battle

They have won the hearts

of all our countrymen

"In particular,

Colonel Chang Nei-chun"

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T'ien-wen Chu

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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