Shan zhong zhuan qi (Legend of the Mountain). 1979. Taiwan. Directed by King Hu. With Chun Shih, Feng Hsu, Sylvia Chang. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 184 min.
Presented in a new digital restoration, the three-hour director’s cut of King Hu’s Legend of the Mountain has its North American premiere in To Save and Project, following on its successful debut at the Venice Film Festival. Hu, a master of the wuxia swordplay subgenre of martial arts cinema, is perhaps best known for Come Drink with Me, Dragon Gate Inn, and A Touch of Zen. For his late-period Legend of the Mountain, Hu turned instead to a supernatural fable set during the 11th-century Sung Dynasty, drawing upon Pu Songling’s classic 18th-century collection Stories from a Chinese Studio and filming independently on location in the South Korean countryside. A scholar-errant, tasked with translating and safeguarding a Buddhist sutra involving the afterlife, loses his grasp of space and time as he wanders through a strange, haunting mountain landscape. Along the way, he encounters temptress ghosts and Taoist priests, ancient abandoned fortresses and inns, and a delirium of color, sound, and silence. 4K digital restoration by the Taiwan Film Institute. DCP.