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Two young people begin a tragic love affair against a backdrop of political turmoil in Lin Cheng-sheng's Xingfu Jinxingqu. In 1945, Taiwan is under Japanese occupation and Yu (Hsiao Shu-shen), a merchant's daughter who is a member of a theater troupe, falls in love with a musician named Jin (Lim Giong) who works with her group.
However, Yu's father is not pleased, as he hopes she will some day wed Ren-chang (Yang Cai-hsia), the son of a prominent doctor. When Allied forces begin bombing Taiwan, the players are forced to disband, and Yu and Jin do not see each other for two years.
When they do, a great deal has changed; the Kuomintang, under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, have established a Chinese-directed government in Taiwan, and local dialects are forbidden while residents are forced to speak Mandarin.
Despite the new hardships, Yu and Jin renew their love and pledge to marry on Feb. 28, 1949 -- a day now remembered in Taiwan for a bloody massacre in which the Kuomintang forces attacked helpless Taiwanese citizens.
Xingfu Jinxingqu was Lin Cheng-sheng's fourth film to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and his first to be screened in official competition.