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Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film)

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6.8/10 Letterboxd

Director  Xu Jinglei
Screenplay  Xu Jinglei
Language  Mandarin
6.8/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama
Music director  Hai Lin, Osamu Kubota
Country  China
Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film) movie poster
Release date  September 20, 2004 (2004-09-20) (San Sebastian) March 4, 2005 (2005-03-04) (China)
Based on  Letter from an Unknown Woman  by Stefan Zweig
Writer  Jinglei Xu, Stefan Zweig (novel)
Cast  Xu Jinglei (Miss Jiang), Jiang Wen (Mr. Xu), Huang Jue (Captain Huang), Yuan Lin (Girl), Huang Jiao (Officer Huang), Xiaoming Su (Mother)
Similar movies  Jiang Wen appears in Letter from an Unknown Woman and Red Sorghum

Letter from an unknown woman

Letter from an Unknown Woman is a 2004 Chinese film written and directed by Xu Jinglei and is her second feature film as director after 2002's My Father and I. The film is an adaptation of Stefan Zweig's 1922 novella of the same name which was also adapted in 1948 by screenwriter Howard Koch. The film stars Xu and Jiang Wen as lovers during the 1930s and 1940s in Beijing. The film was produced by Asian Union Film & Media.


Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film) movie scenes

Xu Jinglei won the Best Director award for the film at the 2004 San Sebastián International Film Festival.

Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film) movie scenes

trailer letter from an unknown woman yi ge mo sheng nu ren de lai xin 2004


Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film) movie scenes

Originally the film's story was to have taken place in modern times, spanning the 1970s through the 1990s. Eventually Xu moved the film's setting several decades back in time, to avoid dealing with social issues such as unmarried mothers and prostitution during the Cultural Revolution and beyond that would have aroused the suspicions of Chinese censors.

Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film) Letter From an Unknown Woman 2004 Phoenix Cinema

Xu also decided to use Beijing as the primary setting over cities like Shanghai (which she felt was overly colonial), Chongqing, and Nanjing (both of which were too turbulent during the war to adequately serve as the setting for a love story). Additionally, Xu felt that Beijing would offer a distinct visual perspective that would have been absent in other Chinese cities.


In the winter of 1948, Beijing, a renowned writer (Jiang Wen) receives a letter from an unknown woman on his birthday. As he reads the letter, a female voiceover begins to recount a relationship he has forgotten. The woman, a Miss Jiang, tells of her first infatuation with the writer when she was in her early teens, when she was his neighbour at a siheyuan. When she moved back to Beijing years later as a student at the Peking Women's College, she had a brief liaison with him, after which she became pregnant. Days later, the writer had completely forgotten about her.

She gave birth to their son in Sichuan, during the war-torn years of the Second Sino-Japanese war. When she moved back to Beijing eight years later, after the war, she became a dance hostess to support her son. Although the two met again, the writer could not recognize her. They had one last liaison again. Though finding her familiar, the writer failed to pin down her identity. On the day after their son dies, she decides to write this letter to let him know of their existence.


  • Xu Jinglei as Miss Jiang. The director and successful actress took on the role of the title character who, as a young girl, becomes infatuated with the writer played by Jiang Wen. Her character then engages in a short but torrid love affair with the writer in the midst of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
  • Jiang Wen as the writer. A wealthy and successful writer who captures of the imagination of Miss Jiang as a girl and later becomes her lover. Jiang, a successful actor and director himself, and also starred in Xu Jinglei's debut film, My Father and I.
  • Lin Yuan as Miss Jiang as a young girl.
  • Sun Feihu as the writer's house steward. Years later, only the steward recognizes Miss Jiang in her new role as a high-society courtesan.
  • Su Xiaoming as Miss Jiang's mother.
  • Huang Jue as an army officer and Miss Jiang's new companion when she returns to Beijing after the war.
  • References

    Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film) Wikipedia
    Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film) IMDbLetter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film) LetterboxdLetter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film) Rotten TomatoesLetter from an Unknown Woman (2004 film)