Film studies Hou Hsiao-Hsien

戏梦人生 – The Puppetmaster (1993) – Hou Hsiao-Hsien

The Puppetmaster (film)

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The Puppetmaster
The Puppet Master.jpg
Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Produced by Chiu Fu-Sheng
Written by Chu Tien-wen
Wu Nien-jen
Starring Lim Giong
Li Tian-lu
Tsai Chen-Nan
Narrated by Li Tian-lu
Music by Chen Ming-Chang
Cinematography Mark Lee Ping-Bin
Release dates
Running time
142 minutes
Country Taiwan
Language Mandarin/Taiwanese/Japanese

The Puppetmaster (Chinese: 戲夢人生; pinyin: Xì mèng rénshēng) is a 1993 Taiwanese film directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Based on the memoirs of Li Tian-lu, Taiwan’s most celebrated puppeteer, this story covers the years from Li’s birth in 1909 to the end of Japan’s fifty-year occupation of Taiwan in 1945.

Many consider The Puppetmaster a masterpiece of world cinema. In the British Film Institute’s 2012 Sight & Sound poll, seven critics and three directors named it one of the greatest films ever made.


It tells the story of Li Tian-lu who becomes a master puppeteer but is faced with demands to turn his skills to propaganda during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in World War II. This film is the second in Hou’s trilogy of historical films that include A City of Sadness (1989) and Good Men, Good Women (1995).

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