Sunday, January 30, 2011

山楂树之恋

uhawthorntree

This film left me weeping.

Zhang YiMou's been doing nothing but martial arts epics and the Olympics this past decade, so it's wonderful to see him pare everything down and go back to what he's actually pretty good at - telling stories. It's stunning to see the contrast between directing such a minimalist film and the 2008 Olympics opening/closing ceremonies, but it's a return to the Zhang that people have forgotten about. Behind the theatrics, all those grand swatches of colour lies the brilliant storyteller that gave us the classic artistic masterpieces, 大红灯笼高高挂 (Raise the Red Lantern), 摇啊摇,摇到外婆桥 (Shanghai Triad) and 活着 (To Live).

This film is so heartbreaking, you don't really want to finish watching. But you have to.

The Chinese expect tragedy . . . a product of a culturally ingrained pragmatism, perhaps. And so when we see a film about love, the inevitable tragedy that befalls the protagonists may not be something that people from lesser backgrounds accept or understand, but is essential to understanding what it is to be Chinese.

Cinema doesn't have feeling anymore. But this film does. Behind all those furtive glances and quick smiles between the lovers shimmers deep ribbons of feeling, the kind that catches your breath . . . it's almost unbearable.

A tremendous sense of loss, visualized in every frame. Zhang wants us to understand the phrase 我不能等你一年零一個月了,也不能等你到二十五歲了,但是我會等你一輩子. Beause we don't know how to truly love anymore, pure love. There is love for wealth, for fame, for excess. But deep love, innocent of all else but him/her - there no longer exists such thing. And that's very tragic.

Don't weep for the characters, so much as the loss of innocence.

DF

1 comment:

  1. I found his movie Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles an amazing movie, so beautiful and moving. I will look forward to this one.

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