Dust in the Wind is a remarkable film, and one which will, no doubt, reward multiple viewings. Like most of the films of Hou Hsiao Hsien, viewers will be divided into two, sharply opposed camps.
The main characters in the film are two high-school students. The first is Wan, who – seeing his village as a dead-end career-wise, decides to leave their home town to go to Taipei to find work, intending to complete his education via night-school. His girlfriend Huen also leaves for Taipei after graduation. The other personages are family members, employers, friends and co-workers.
The story presented consists of a number of vignettes in typical Hou fashion, with stationary camera and naturalistic performances. Glimpses are given of their occupations, their moments together and their times apart. Though varying from the very funny to the emotionally raw, they have a cumulative effect, resonating with a reality that is not idealised, and is yet still filled with moments of sublime grace, somehow existing with situations of despair, misery, boredom and loss. There is little music, only a solitary guitar used to punctuate scenes, almost like a musical interlude, often combined with stunning scenery.
Apart from the immediate plot, something can also be glimpsed of the attitudes of the rural, native Taiwanese towards the city and the higher classes, as well as to the vicissitudes of life in general. On a whole the film seems imbued with the melancholy, fatalistic philosophy indicated by its title.
A worthy member of Hou’s inimitable body of films, ‘Dust in the Wind’ was touching and memorable, though with an absence of schmaltz. It is a film I hope to revisit soon. As for recommendations, I’m not sure that it will be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’. Some will find many of its aspects, in particular its detachedness, quite alienating. Certainly those already familiar with Hou, or fans of Taiwanese cinema in general, will want to see it. Those who like Ozu, Bresson or Tarkovsky may find it worthwhile also. There is the same naturalistic feel, understated acting and long takes. But it is also very much the work of an original auteur who is honing his craft and producing unique, personal films.
2.29GB | 1h 50mn | 1024×576 | mkv
Subtitles:English, French, Chinese