Review: ‘On The Other Side Of The Bridge’

An inspiring story receives novelettish treatment in "On the Other Side of the Bridge," story of an Austrian woman who, out of love, moved to China in the '30s, survived its upheavals and still lives in a small village south of Shanghai.

An inspiring story receives novelettish treatment in “On the Other Side of the Bridge,” story of an Austrian woman who, out of love, moved to China in the ’30s, survived its upheavals and still lives in a small village south of Shanghai. Rushed into competition at Montreal in an all-German dialogue version prepared for Austrian TV, pic is of purely parochial interest. A more authentic German-Mandarin version is in preparation.

Daughter of a Viennese police chief (Erwin Steinhauser), 18-year-old Fanny (Nina Proll) falls for Ma Yunlong (Wang Zhiwen), a trainee cop at her dad’s academy, and despite parental opposition follows him back to China, where the two get hitched in 1935. Early scenes are lightly comic (a traditional wedding with amused villagers) but as tragedy mounts during the Maoist years, the pic becomes more soppy, shuttling between past and present as the granddaughter (Julia Stemberger) of Fanny’s best friend (Muriel Baumeister) tracks down the old woman (Susi Nicoletti). Proll looks mostly bemused, Wang is dignified but bland. Direction by Hu Mei (“Far From War,” 1978) is by the numbers, though full-bodied lensing by d.p. Lu Yue (“Shanghai Triad”) is aces.

On The Other Side Of The Bridge

China-Austria

Production

A Beijing Forbidden City Co. (China)/SK Film (Austria) production, in association with Liaoning Jintong Industrial Group and China Coproduction Corp., with participation of OFI, FFW, ORF. (International sales: SK Film, Austria.) Produced by Josef Koschier, Wang Zhebin. Directed by Hu Mei. Screenplay, Wang Zhebin.

Crew

Camera (color), Lu Yue; editors, Du Yuan, Harald Aue; music, Ye Xiaogang; art directors, Li Yaoyao, Gerhard Janda; costume designers, Barbara Langbein, Li. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Aug. 28, 2002. German dialogue version. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Nina Proll, Wang Zhiwen, Susi Nicoletti, Erwin Steinhauser, Muriel Baumeister, Julia Stemberger, Song Xiaoying, Bai Shiquan, Wang Yuchang, Dorothea Parton, Wang Gang, Martin Loeschberger, Han Ting, Leopold Roessner, Karl Merkatz.
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