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Deeply reflective Chinese film set in mesmerising sceney
on 22 February 2009
Still Life  [DVD]
Superbly filmed amidst the mesmerising scenery of the Three Gorges during the time it was being prepared for flooding as a dam.
There are two separate plots about characters coming to the town to contact lost partners, Sanming (Sanming Han) confused and believing he is looking for his daughter, and Shen Hong (Tao Zhao) looking for her husband.
The minimal plot is supportive of the motive behind the film, the contrasts and stress of a country in turmoil of change, with Sanming representing tradition values and losers in the race for wealth, and Shen Hong part of the emergent middle class.
The events in each of the two plots mirror each other, but have different emphasis and outcomes. Sanming becomes a demolition worker forming a natural bond with his work mates. Shen Hong on the other hand is always isolated and remains remote from everyone except an archaeologist from outside the area.
The backdrop for both stories is the breathtaking scenery of the Three Gorges contrasted with the manual demolition of skyscrapers in a town due to be flooded.
The Director Zhang Ki Jia introduces some bizarre and gratuitous elements into the film and the excellent documentary is compulsory viewing for understanding these and also the meaning of the film.
There is a companion piece called "Dong" shot in the same location, including some scenes from Still Life about a real life great Chinese painter called "Dong" seen painting enormous canvases of the demolition workers and women in Bangkok. This is a major production in its own right,
Absolutely unmissable for lovers of Chinese films.