Your Company

I Wish I Knew(海上传奇)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

China · 2010
2h 5m
Director Jia Zhangke
Starring Zhao Tao, Chen Danqing, Toon Wang, Hou Hsiao-hsien
Genre Documentary, History

A documentary comprising the stories of Shanghai, from life experiences to architecture to film history, over the course of this port city's development from the mid-1800s to the present day.

Stream I Wish I Knew

What are people saying?

What are critics saying?


The Film Stage by

The film is about the way we remember, from individuals looking back on the stories of life that their grandparents told them to the camera itself acting reflective of a time that’s destined to be finite.

75 by Glenn Kenny

Even without access to all that it references, I Wish I Knew functions as an admirable cinematic tone poem about a place and its times.


The A.V. Club by Lawrence Garcia

Even in shortened form, I Wish I Knew can at times feel overly discursive. But its implications, particularly regarding the Cultural Revolution, are difficult to miss.


The New York Times by Manohla Dargis

In effect, with I Wish I Knew, Jia is building not just a portrait of a city, but of a fragmented people — one story and memory at a time. He is finding meaning in collective remembrance and revealing a world, to borrow a phrase from Walter Benjamin, “under the gaze of the melancholy man.”


The New Yorker by Richard Brody

Wondrous yet rueful views of the city, with its blend of grandeur and squalor, are anchored by the wanderings of an actress, Zhao Tao, whose mysterious role is clarified by one of the most anguished of testimonies.


Los Angeles Times by Robert Abele

What ensues amidst Jia’s indelible, gliding visuals of modern Shanghai are ruminative testimonials from the breadth of an older citizenry — former soldiers, descendants of gangsters and politicians, and (lots of) artists who endured the city’s turbulent evolution, and who in their stories of family, love and survival form a tapestry of memory and wisdom.

Users who liked this film also liked