Summer Palace was director Lou Ye’s sacrifice, which resulted in the film being banned by Beijing and earning Ye a five-year ban from the industry. Although the honest sex scenes (it being the first in Chinese cinema to show full frontal nudity of both sexes) were probably enough to have the movie banned, no doubt the political undertones made the Chinese government squirm as well.

Summer Palace follows the lives of Yu Hong, a young girl from a small town who lives out her dream of attending college at the prestigious Beijing University and Zhou Wei, the object of her affection. Their rocky relationship mirrors major upheavals occurring at the time.

Grade: B

Summer Palace is currently available.