Execution In Autumn

In DVD/Blu-ray by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Referred to as “the godfather of Taiwanese cinema”, director Lee Hsing (who passed away in 2021 at the age of 91) combined Western realism with the neo-Confucian ideals advocated by the nationalist government in Taiwan. 

Execution In Autumn is generally regarded as a masterpiece—and rightly so. The film is a beautifully and nuanced work, in which life, death, the choices we make, and how we will be remembered, stand out against the protagonist’s looming execution. The result is a film that plays out like a tangled dream rather than a plot-driven narrative. Yet–despite a lack of drama and impetus–the tale is both compelling and emotionally rewarding.

Since childhood, Pei Gang (Ou Wei) has been spoiled by his rich grandmother who raised him after the death of his parents. Unable to control himself,  in a fit of rage, Gang kills a pregnant woman—who is the mother of his unborn child. Arrested, he is sentenced to be beheaded in the autumn—the traditional season for executions. Initially, his grandmother tries to save him, but when this proves to be beyond her means, she tries to ensure a different type of ‘continuation’ for Pei Gang and the family name, by persuading him marry the young Lian (Tang Pao-yun).

Featuring a screenplay by Chang Yung-hsiang (who also wrote another Lee Hsing masterwork, Beautiful Duckling), Execution In Autumn was Lee Hsing’s personal favourite of all of his films—and it was certainly his most successful—being shortlisted as Taiwan’s entry for the 45th Academy Film Awards. 

Released on Blu-ray (from a 2K restoration) for the first time anywhere in the world in celebration of the film’s 50th Anniversary, Execution In Autumn is part of Eureka’s much-loved Masters of Cinema Series.

Special blu-ray features include:

  • The first print-run of 2,000 copies will feature a Limited-Edition O-card Slipcase.
  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a stunning 2K restoration of the original film elements undertaken by the Taiwan Film Institute.
  • Original Mandarin audio (uncompressed LPCM).
  • Optional English subtitles, newly revised for this release.
  • New video piece by film critic Tony Rayns.
  • A Collector’s Booklet featuring new and archival writing.