Summer Palace (2006) - full transcript

Country girl Yu Hong leaves her village, her family and her lover to study in Beijing. At university, she discovers an intense world of sexual freedom and forbidden pleasure. Enraptured, compulsive, she falls madly in love with fellow student Zhou Wei. Driven by obsessive passions they can neither understand nor control, their relationship becomes one of dangerous games - betrayals, recriminations, provocations - as all around them, their fellow students begin to demonstrate, demanding democracy and freedom. Protests collapse, and Yu and Zhou lose each other amidst the social chaos and panicked crowds. Zhou Wei is sent to a summer military camp, and on his release moves to Berlin, fleeing both his country and memories of Yu. She finds a job, a lover, but can not forget Zhou. In Germany, social unrest is mounting: calls for freedom, demonstrations for democracy. A familiar story for Zhou. Weary, still haunted by Yu, he returns to China as the Berlin Wall crashes down. He finds her at last, in a small town. From evening to dawn, their future stretches before them, two changed souls in a changed world.

- Mrs. Qing.
- You've come for the mail?

Is this today's?

Beijing University Enrollment

- I'm going now.
- See you later.

I've got some bottles.

I'll put the money here.

Anyone there?

- Hello.
- Hi.

- What can I get you?
- A couple of things.

These are good.

I don't want one.

- They're imported.
- No.

Just a drag.
Your dad's not home.

What do you think?

Good music?

You're laughing?

Keep it up,
and I'll confiscate your letter.

I got a letter?

Give it here!

It's in my bag.
Get it yourself.

What's wrong?

What does it say?

Come on.

I got into the university.

Evening, neighbor!
Congratulations to your daughter!

Hello, Dad.

Go ahead and eat.

I'm going to school.

What for?
You got into college.

I'm meeting some friends.


Yu Hong, when you're in Beijing,
I won't be able to look after you.

Don't worry about me.

I've kept you waiting.

- What kept you?
- The traffic was awful.

- Whose bike is this?
- What's the problem?

Move your bike!

What's your problem?

Break it up!

Stop it!

How dare you hit a girl!

It's annoying.
All these motorbikes.

Quiet! We're trying to sleep!

Where were you?

I looked for you all day.

What for?

I wanted to go to the library
with you.

The book you wanted. Volume 1.

The second one's still there.

If you don't go soon,
someone else will take it out.

- Let's go.
- Tomorrow.

Then tomorrow,
you'll go shopping with me, too.



So we're going shopping tomorrow?

Have one.

They're really sweet.

I'm going. Bye.

Good night.

Can't sleep?

You're Yu Hong, right?

And you?

Li Ti.

My room's over there.

I'm learning English.

You know
they're all talking about you?


The others. Everyone.


They say your heart's been broken,

or you're lonely,
or you're a lesbian.


Why are you smoking out here
by yourself?

It's too crowded inside.

Let's go to my room.
My roommate's not there.

Sit down.
Wherever you want.

My roommate's from Beijing.

She rarely sleeps here.

I've pretty much
got the place to myself.

Make yourself comfortable.

Have you got a boyfriend?


- And you?
- He's in Berlin.

On a scholarship.

What do your parents do?

My mother's dead.

And your dad?

He runs a little grocery store
in Tumen.

Come on.

Ruo Gu's back in a few days.
Want to meet him?


Not worried I'll steal him?

No. You've got no chance.

You're really solid, you two.

Really, it's great.

She says we're like an old couple.

Ruo Gu!

My boyfriend, Ruo Gu.
Yu Hong.

Zhou Wei.
He's a student here, too.

"Crossing the barren steppe,
the night rises within you."

We see each other, right?

A mirror held up to the face of God.

Protecting workers is what counts?

And protecting peasants.

And intellectuals like you.

- How did we become part of this?
- We have to protect ourselves.

Can I bum a cigarette?

Want to dance?

- Don't just smoke.
- Come.

Work it, girl.
Get your classmate to dance.

Had I not viewed my life
in the light of the ideal,

its mediocrity
would have been unbearable.

That's how I saw things
when we met.

You came into my life.

You are my most refined friend.

It's very simple.

I knew from the moment I saw you

that we were standing
on the same side of the world.

And then we talked
the whole night long.

For all that, there are troubling
aspects to our relationship,

which can't be reduced
simply to pleasure or the lack of it.

I want to live
more and more intensely.

It's clear to me, nowhere more so
than in our relationship,

because there are times when
I'm clearly imposing my will on you.

If one takes desire lightly,
action will be constricted.

It was through love
that I understood this.

There's no getting away from it.

There are only illusions.


Those lethal things.

You look great.

The stairs.

Should be over here.
Let's give it a try.

This way.

- Doesn't seem right.
- What's the unit number?

238. That way.

Zhou Wei!

Zhou Wei!

The East Germans

say the Chinese should understand
the Berlin Wall,

because they built the Great Wall.

My roommate's gone on vacation
with her boyfriend.

To the Great Wall?

My room will be free.

Zhou Wei, you can use it
if you need to do some writing.

I'm giving the key to Yu Hong.

He is the man
I always dreamed of meeting.

It's as if I've always
been waiting for him.

Waiting for our encounter.

Today, my dream
has become reality.

But his presence frightens me.

I'm afraid of the danger
he brings with him.

But, at least for now,

I'm not so afraid that I can't act.

Because deep inside,
I know he deserves my trust.

Zhou Wei...

I want us to break up.


Because I can't leave you.

This plant is associated with love.
It's widely know as...

The reed.

Is anyone familiar
with the poem "Reeds"?

Can you recite it?

The reeds are deepest green

The white mist turns to frost

The one I'm calling to
Is somewhere by the water

How is it?

Looks nice.

Come in.

You should get circumcised.


It would hurt less.

Who told you that?

My psychology tutor.

Why would he tell you that?


Because I slept with him.

What's wrong?

What's wrong?

What's wrong?

"Sunday afternoon has passed.

But I can't shake the feeling
that remains after your visit.

In my mind, I go over
everything you spoke of.

The good news delights me,
but at the same time..."

- Where is Yu Hong?
- lnside.

It's boring.

Feel calm on the whole,
just a little odd and distracted.

I didn't expect us to share
so much in an hour,

nor to receive
so much good news..."

He's your boyfriend?

I've got some.

Have one of mine.

I love watching girls smoke.

You look so good when you smoke.

So he's your boyfriend?
Good looking.

I hear all the girls
want to sleep with him.

Have you slept with him?

What do you think?

You want to try with me?

- You're crazy.
- I'm not crazy at all.

What's the matter?

Stop fighting!

I'm stopping.

What do you want?

What do you want?

Sleep with him,
but don't do it in front of me.

What's wrong with you?

With me?

Ask yourself what's wrong with you.

I cannot find my home
Among the city's tower blocks

I wander to the ends of the earth
Through the swarming streets

Carrying my heavy shell


Climbing bravely upwards

Zhou Wei, I'm sleeping here tonight.


Chen Jun, let's grab a bite?


What brings you here?
Come in.

- Can I take your bed?
- No problem.

I'm sleeping here!

- Let's go out for a bit.
- All right.

What's wrong?
I said he was sleeping here.

I just want a word with him.
We'll be back soon.

No hurry.

My stuffs outside.

Bye, Yu Hong.

Take it easy.

What's up with you?

I said no.
You're not sleeping here.

I'm staying unless you hit me.
If you--

Hit me again, and I'll go.

Hit me, and I'm gone.

Go on.

Yesterday, I hung around Zhou Wei's
dorm like a fool all evening.

No one spoke to me.

We sang songs.

"The Snail's Home."

I wanted to leave...

...but I wavered, and I stayed.

Later, Zhou Wei slapped me.

I cried.

He took me in his arms
and held me for a long, long time.

That's not the worst part.

What's worse is to know this sort
of thing will happen to me again.

I curse my stupidity, my futility.

These hallucinations
always torment me.

When I'm impatient,

when I can't bear
to wait to see him.

But I've gone too far ahead.

I thought you were
far away from me,

while you were right there,
gently holding my hand.

Let's break up.

I've thought about it.

Let's break up.

If I were a man, I'd never let you go.

You mean in bed?

I mean everything about you.

So far, no one has managed it.

Zhou Wei could.


He's not talking to me.

You scared him.

Guys like him...

They like gentle girls.

You're so hard
you make him impotent.


When I saw you on the roof,
I was really scared.

I thought you might jump.

Jumping would have been easy.

But I wouldn't.

Looking at my face in the mirror,
I don't see the face of a young girl.

Instead, I see the face
of a mature woman.

Complex desires.
Emotions ripened prematurely.

Nonchalance and coldness.

All written on my face.

When I see my face,
I think of another face beside it.

How I long to see
both faces together.

I talked to Zhou Wei about you.

- What did he say?
- He said you're crazy.

What did you say?

I said, "Don't be stupid.
She's perfectly sane."

Clothes everywhere!

What's wrong?

What's wrong?

Is it something I said?

What's wrong?

Stop it.

What did you put on the wall?

I'm going to tear it down!


Don't get upset.

I need to write down some things
that have been happening in my life.

And I want to tell Zhou Wei.


Our decision to break up
didn't work out as planned.

Maybe I'm doomed
to be bound to him.

Together or apart.


Song Ping, as serious as she seems,
is a book thief.

She's stolen loads of books
and taken them home one by one.

Third: I taught Dongdong
how to masturbate.

One day, I took her to Li Ti's room.

I told her to stand in front
of the mirror and to feel her body.

Those days, Dongdong and I
were always together.

Later, we met two boys
from another university.

One evening,
they came to see us.

And they ended up staying.

One slept with Dongdong,
the other with me.

How much?

You want an ace?

The fourth thing.

Today, I spent the whole day
at the swimming pool.

And a frightening thing
happened again.

I couldn't sit still or remain calm.

I wanted to keep writing,
but I couldn't.

I did what I normally do.

I shut my eyes tight.

I was in a cold sweat.

I wanted to lie down.

Just to lie down.

It would have done me good.

Then I climbed into the pool,

and I sat at the boundary between
the deep and the shallow end.

My breathing grew weaker.

I wasn't sure I'd recover.

I lost consciousness.

Fifth thing,

The students of Beijing University
went to Tiananmen Square.

Help me up!

Every ray of light
Will be absorbed by me

All the air will be inhaled by me

Every single thing
Will be weightless

Our love has been
To the end of all roads

As I was getting ready
to go far away,

I asked her if she wanted
to leave her country.

I heard her whisper good-bye,
and that I should forget her.

Seeing her so resolved,
I murmured, "Good-bye."

Tears streamed down my face,
but not because we were parting.


What are you doing in here?
What department are you in?

Get dressed!

Come with us.
Did you hear me?


I came here to tell you...

...that Zhou Wei and Li Ti
are sleeping together.

The college administration
caught them in the act.

It will be made public soon.

You shouldn't see him anymore.


Fuck off!

What are you doing in Beijing?

I was worried about you.

I'm going home!

Calm down!

Please calm down.

Sit down.


Girls over here, thank you!

Unity is strength!

Unity is strength!

They're firing!




Zhou Wei!

There's mayhem on campus!
Have you seen Yu Hong?

- Why?
- She and Xiao are gone!


Xiao came to take her back home!

And? Talk to me!

What happened!

He took her back to Tumen!
She didn't want me to tell you!

Where are they?


Dongdong, let's go!

Ministry of Education Notice:
Holidays will start earlier this year.



Chen Jun!

Let me go!

Fucking bastards!

Yu Hong... gone.

She asked me to tell you,
she's dropping out.

Don't go looking for her.

It's over.

Everything's over between you.

When did she leave?

That's where we should go.


I make this decision based on
the fundamental considerations.

June 30th, 9:00 p.m.

A contingent comprising of 500
from People's Liberation Army

entered Hong Kong,

as the colony's last British Governor
Chris Patten departs...

Do you often go to that karaoke?

Once in a while.

What's up with you?

Have you ever met girls there

took them home,
then here for dinner?

Why are you asking
this sort of questions?

Wu Gang.

Come with me.

Why did you write me a letter?

I like you.

There's nothing nice about me.

Why would you like me?

I think you're different
from other women.

You're simple and straightforward.

And you know how
to make people love you.

What makes you say that?

You get the most mail.

When I think about my college days,

the most confusing time of my life,

every time I claimed
not to have strong desires,

my friend Wei would mock me
with her smile.

Yu Hong!

When I said I was
consumed with desire,

she denied that, too.

Know why I liked talking
about desire with her?

She is the sexiest.

She always got the cutest guys.

But I'm no longer as I used to be.

I'm living in an unbearable situation,
and my heart is heavy,

dark clouds glower overhead,

but despite that,
I'm able to comfort myself at will.

I have a talent for that.

I still have a future.

The more pitiful my life is,

the better that future will be.

It's pouring?


I want you to read my diary!

I can't do that.

You're soaking.

Dry off.

You're soaking wet.

I missed you.

I missed you.

Looking through my photo album,

I came across a picture
of Zhou Wei.

My heart raced wildly.

One look, and the joy and pain
flooded back.

Staring at his image,
I asked myself how it was,

that on this serene face:
open, frank, and resolute,

I saw no trace, no shadow,
that could make me doubt?

Why could nothing he'd said to me,
or done to me,

prevent my heart
from going out to him?

Apparently, I was the one
pursuing him, yearning for him,

but I never felt any lesser than him.

At times, I felt much cleverer
than him.

The memories brought tears,
and the resolve to endure.

Today is Saturday,
and I'm screwed again.

Tonight, there was nothing to do
but to go to him.

He has a wife.

She's away studying.

We met at a karaoke bar.

I really feel we're in the same boat.

Alone and without purpose.

A colleague who knows the law
told me

that our affair isn't illegal,
but immoral.

What is morality?

Two people together.

I think that's morality.

When he and I are like that,
when our bodies merge,

I trust him.

I feel the will to succeed.

Making love with him
consumes my mind entirely.

There's no room for anything else.

But I know with a terrible certainty
that my passion for him will not last.

I know that I can kiss him
but that I won't remain.

Humans yearn to be alone.

And they long for death.

Why else do we fight
with those we love most?

Why this indifference
to what is in front of us,

and fix our eyes
on the unreachable?

You don't love me.

I don't love you.

But as long as you're next to me,
I'm happy.

I want to lie down beside you
and never leave.

Zhou Wei.

A remote name.

A distant name.

I had forgotten his name.

Damn it!

Is he like me?
Thinking of someone else?

What is he thinking about?

Go back.

- Go back.
- Take care.

- Be careful.
- Okay.

Zhou Wei.

Why would your name
suddenly come to mind?

Where are you?

Are we really going to be apart?


Am I ready?

- Your name?
- Yu Hong.

Yu Hong. What "Yu"?

"Yu" as in "surplus."

How old are you?


Do you have the number
of someone we can call?

823 00 67.

- What name?
- Wang Bo.

Wang Bo.

Tell us what happened.

I just came from Yanzhiping...

- Comrade, no one's answering.
- No answer?

Is there anybody else
we can call?

An acquaintance?

823 00 76.

What's the name?

- Wu Gang.
- Wu Gang.

- I'll give it a try.
- All right, please.

Let's continue.

Don't tell anyone at work.

Don't worry.
I won't tell anyone.

- Wu Gang?
- That's right.

- How do you know her?
- We're colleagues.

She's been examined,
nothing serious.

But she should be observed.

Outside, the sun blazes,

but inside me,
there's only hatred and rancor.

To ensure I never have to face
last night's misery again,

I want to get married quickly.

It doesn't matter to whom.


A little gift.

Good wine!

- Ruo Gu, Zhou Wei's here.
- Ruo Gu.

Someone's waiting.


Does it pay well?

Pretty well.

I don't speak German very well.
There, I don't have to talk much.

Will you go back to China?

- Yes.
- Why?

I've got a friend in Chongqing
who has offered me work.

Nina's glass is empty.
Shall we open another?

I feel like I'm in transit here,
as if everything is in flux,

and I don't like the feeling.

But do you think that in China
everything will become clear to you?

- We'll talk about it another time.
- Yeah.

- Good morning.
- Hello.

Two coffees, please.

- Here you go.
- Thank you.

- Do you have cigarettes?
- We only have rolling tobacco.

That's fine.

Six marks total.

What's Warsaw like?

It's okay.

And Beijing?

It's okay.

You have a girlfriend?


Where does she live?

Very far away.

In China?


Where are we right now?

In Berlin?

All right. Ready.

One! Two!


- Take another one.
- Okay.

- Did you get the bridge?
- One more.

One! Two!

- Madam, could you take our picture?
- I'll take one for you.

Thank you.

- Any film left?
- No.

"Each man should cherish the life
he has not yet lived."

It's true.

But I think whoever wrote this,
had never known love.

As soon as love touches you,
life is knocked off balance.

True love can only appear
at the most intense moments

of anguish and suffering.

Yu Hong, are you sick?

I'm fine.

So we have a direction,

and for the coming year,
each of us must establish goals.

Secondly, we have a problem
in our department.

Let's discuss that first.

I insist on addressing discipline.


...some workers have told me,
and I've also noticed it myself.

It's not good.

During working hours, people
yawning, making phone calls.

Yu Hong, don't go.

This concerns you.

Today, our democratic meeting
will address this issue.

I'm not pointing out
anyone in particular.

The guilty will correct
their behavior.

Phone calls during working hours
are a disturbance to others.

What's wrong with her?

Yu Hong, are you okay?

Are you okay?

Slow down.

They also say that you were
carrying on with a married man.

What are you thinking?

I don't care.

What do you mean,
you don't care?

I love you, period.

There's that one,

and many other men
you know nothing about.

That's in the past.
I really don't care.

- Really?
- Really.

I'm telling you the truth.
I don't give a damn about the past.

Do you have a light?


You don't have a light.

It's not working.

Of course.

You have a lighter, but no light.

What are you talking about?

Don't be like this.

Yu Hong.

- Yu Hong!
- What?

Don't be like this.

I shouldn't have said anything.

I didn't mean anything by it.

I hope you will trust me.

You don't believe me.

I believe you.

It's all true, you know.

I told you,
I really don't give a damn.

I love you, and that's that.

Anyway, you're a good person.

Yu Hong, where are you going?

- Don't do this, Yu Hong!
- Don't follow me!

I didn't mean anything.

Yu Hong!

You're lying!

I'm not lying, truly.

Yu Hong!

Yu Hong!

Do you love me?

Do you love me?

Zhou Wei...

Why am I always so anxious
to make love with the men in my life?

Because it's only when we make love
that you understand that I'm gentle.

I've tried countless ways.

In the end,
I've chosen this very special,

very direct path.

I've already led two or three men
to understand me,

to see my goodness, my tenderness.

Yu Hong.

Let's get married.

- Oh, really?
- Yes, I will ask them to go too.


You go ahead.
I have something to do.

I'm going now.


Wu, I'm leaving.

Long johns.
For the winter.

I'll see you.

Take your shoes off.

Wu Gang.

My darling.

So I can tell you my thoughts
completely and precisely,

I am writing this for you.

I want to say that,
since I've known you,

my heart's emotions
have once again been reborn.

But at the same time,

I've come to know material poverty.

One person can live in destitution.

But if there are two,

such a life
can only breed resentment.

We should part.

Your loving Yu Hong.


We're done.

You can get up.

Gently. Gently.

At the moment,

in work and in life,

I'm bound to poverty.

This poverty of existence shows

that my desires and romantic nature
have cost me dearly.

But should my life get even worse,
I'll never lose the courage to live.

For people like us
are wed to this destiny.

Yesterday I read something.

"You gave your blood readily in war.

Peace came, and you could
barely take a single step."

Zhou Wei, can you tell me
what happened to us that summer?

Can you tell me what's happening
between us now?

It's been such a long time.

Must you really leave?

Till we meet again, I hope.

- Good-bye.
- Good-bye.

It's too short notice.
I can only pay you for last month.

Have a good trip.

What's wrong?

You're so quiet.

Don't go.

I'll call you as soon
as I get to Chongqing.

Do you like it?

It's yours.

Watch your step.

Zhou Wei, pass me your lighter.

You forgot yours?

Come here.

I leave in a few days.

With all I have to do,
I probably won't see you again.

If you come to China,
be sure to visit me in Chongqing.

I'll take you to the airport.

You don't have to.

- I said I would.
- No need.

I said I'd take you.

Just tell me when.

In search of my beloved's grave

I wandered to the ends of the earth

I could do nothing but cry
Bitter tears of despair

Where are you, my beloved?

I could do nothing but cry
Bitter tears of despair

Where are you, my beloved?

The heart suffers without love
Where are you my beloved?

Did you love Li Ti?


But she wouldn't allow anyone
to love her,

for fear of hurting them.

She said love is like a wound
in the heart.

When it heals, love disappears.

She said perhaps love never existed.

It's not like that.

That's not how it is.

- Call me.
- Okay.

- Good morning.
- Hello.

Miss Chan, please proof this.
We're about to start printing.


Your girlfriend?
Introduce us!

My friend, Shasha.

This is Mr. Peng,

Mr. Du...

Duan, Zhang.

Thank you, all of you.

It's windy.

Not started?


Zhou Wei.

I thought I recognized that face.

You don't remember me?




We were at college together.

My colleagues.

- What are you doing here?
- And you?

Dongdong, you know,
the one who played the pipa...

She came back from America.
She's a housewife in Canton.

You know, back then,
the hot topic among the girls

was you and Yu Hong.

Actually, I'm not really up to date,

but it was Dongdong who told me
at the wedding.

What wedding?

- Whose wedding?
- Yu Hong's.

When Yu Hong got married,

there weren't many guests
at the wedding.

Not many that I knew.

Mostly her friends from Wuhan.

- Where did she get married?
- In Chongqing.

Two years ago.

Zhou Wei.

Zhou Wei.

Where are you going so late?


What's going on?

Nothing much.

But I think
you'd rather be alone tonight.


Dear Yu Hong,
Wei gave me your e-mail address.

So I'm sending you a test mail.

It's been so long.

I don't know what to write.

I don't know where you are.

How are you?

What's the matter?


So what now?

What now?

I need a drink.

How about you?


I'll get something.

No, I'll go.

Do you know where to get it?