Friday, June 24, 2011

My Block Booking for a Red Movie in Shanghai

by Maple, guest blogger

[Note:  July 1st this year marks the 90th birthday of China's Communist Party. To celebrate it, "red" movies and TV shows are sweeping the country, to the extent that popular spy shows are banned May through July. The biggest film made especially for this occasion is "The Great Cause of Founding the Party" (《建党伟业》), which, in the China-made English ad, is translated as "Beginning of the Great Revival." Its release day was June 15th.  Here is the experience of an ordinary moviegoer on June 17th. -- Xujun]

[in translation, 中文原文附后]

(Shanghai, June 17) I went to a movie theater this afternoon, to give myself a break after a week of intense painting. A French movie festival was ongoing, but I would have to wait until evening to see it. The 3D "Kung Fu Panda" was on, but that kind of fad is for teens with high-tech addictions and would only daze me.  

Coincidentally, the movie "The Great Cause of Founding the Party" (《建党伟业》) was about to start in 5 minutes. I bought the ticket, as if guided by a deity. Entering the screening room, I was stared at by the theater staff. They were whispering about me -- did they suspect my head was crushed by the door?

It turned out that,  in the whole screening room, with more than 400 seats, I was the only audience member, the only person who voluntarily dug into my own wallet to receive the "red" education.


To be fair, the movie is well made. The plot is tight, some details are moving, and the actors are high quality.  But to put more than a hundred of the most famous stars into one movie, that seems like a practical joke.

Last time when "The Great Cause of Founding the Country" (《建国大业》) was made [in a similar fashion], many people went to theaters driven by the urge to "identify famous faces." From the beginning to the end, every time a face appeared on the screen, the hundreds of audience would roar in one voice: "Tang Guoqiang!" "Liu Yiwei!" "Liu Dehua!"  For two hours, all were engaged in identifying, shouting, and guessing; identifying, shouting, and guessing. No one knew what the movie was about.  To call it "great education for all people" is not as precise as "great entertainment for all people."  Perhaps this was the leaders' real goal after all? Educating by entertaining?

Now once again the great entertainment comes, but the masses are tired, they don't want to play anymore. They have left me alone doing the identification and guessing. I still don't understand why Zhao Benshan (赵本山) would wordlessly stand in Yuan Shikai's (袁世凯) shadow, with an expression half laughing half crying, and why Liu Yunlong (柳云龙), an actor I admire, would be half hiding in the left lower corner like a shadow. This was too distracting! I identified this face and then that, couldn't hear at all what Zhou Runfa (周润发) was saying. What was the director's motive? I couldn't enjoy the movie itself, I was only thinking: Why is Wang Xuebing (王学兵) so haggard? Who is playing Xiaofengxian (小凤仙), so beautiful?
      
The most far-off thing was that all the scenes of Tang Wei (汤唯) were removed. She was acting Mao Zedong's first love (not Yang Kaihui), but because she had been all nude in "Lust, Caution," someone thought she would tarnish the great man's image.  Yet Liu Ye (刘烨), the man who plays Mao himself, had starred in the most well-known homosexual film "Lan Yu" (《蓝宇》), with many shots of him all-nude in bed. If the same logic were used, wouldn't he tarnish Mao's image more directly? If we were back in the Cultural Revolution, the director would certainly be executed twice.

My only consolation is that, as a big screen lover, I enjoyed 135 minutes of exclusive block booking of the theater all by myself. I sat there straight to the last minute, until all names of the actors, workers, and musicians ascended beyond the screen.

For a moviegoer like me who's sick beyond cure, the staff member at the door was very sad. He slowly shook his head, like an owl.

(Continue to read the Chinese text / 继续阅读中文原文)

我的电影包场

Maple / 617日/上海

为一幅画忙了一星期,今天下午想去看场电影放松一下。
       有个法国电影节,但要晚上才有场次,不想等。
       《功夫熊猫》是3d的,这种小年青追捧的高科技,我看着头晕。
       刚好有场5分钟之后就开场的电影《建党伟业》,神使鬼差地就定了它。
       进场时有工作人员定晴看我,并低声议论,似乎在怀疑:这人是不是脑袋被门挤了?
       结果全场四百来个位置,就我一人自觉自愿自掏腰包来接受红色教育。
       平心而论,此片拍得不错,情节紧凑,有些细节感人,演员水准高。
       只是他们安排一百多个名演员同时在一部电影里露面,似乎是一场恶作剧。
        上次《建国大业》就有不少人是抱着认名脸的心情去的。一部电影从头到尾出来一个人下面就人几百人齐叫唐国强!”“刘艺伟!”“刘德华!
        因为从头到尾都是名脸,所以两小时下来大家都在认认认,叫叫叫。脸熟又叫不出来名的,就在猜猜猜。结果电影讲了些什么,谁也不知道。与其说是全民大教育,不如说是全民大娱乐。不过也许这才是领导们的真实意途?寓教育于娱乐之中?
        这次又来了,可民众却腻了,不爱玩了。结果我一个人在猜猜猜认认认。我一直不解为何让赵本山一言不发似笑若哭地站在袁世凯的背景中,又让我欣赏的柳云龙若 隐若现影子一样立在左下角,实在让人分心呀!我辩了这个认那个,根本听不清周润发在讲什么。导演安的啥心呢?我无发静心接受教育或者享受电影本身,一心只 在想:王学兵怎么这么憔悴呀!小凤仙是谁呢真是太漂亮了!
        最离谱的是把汤唯的镜头全删了,原本她演毛泽东的初恋(非杨开慧),因《色戒》中她全裸出演事件,有人认为她会玷污伟人形象。可演毛本人的刘烨,却是出演 过中国最有名的同性恋影片《蓝宇》的呀!并且还有不少正面全裸床上镜头。如果用某些人的逻辑推理,这难道不更是直接玷污了伟人形象吗?
       这要回到文革时代,导演不被枪毙两次才怪哩!
       唯一值得安慰的是,喜爱大银幕的我,活活享受了135分钟的电影包场礼遇。
       而且电影结束后,我一直作古正经地端坐那里,坚持把所有演员表职员表乐队人员表的字幕都看完了,才依依不舍地离开。
       面对我这种病入膏肓的观众,门口的服务员非常难过,像一只猫头鹰一样慢慢左右摇头。

6 comments:

vammo dump said...

hi

two points:

i read somewhere that it was mao's grandkid, the one in teh military, who wanted tang wei cut out...

and, perhaps the lan yu vs lust caution thing you pointed out is a simple case of people needing women to be a virtuous ideal whereas men are sort of ok to be a bit dirty, less abstract, more realworld. but then also i dont know how well-known lan yu is in the mainland. lust caution i remember caused quite a stir.

David said...

Maybe I missed it, but is there a link to the Chinese. Would like to post it on Sina Weibo.

Thanks,
David (CMP)

Xujun Eberlein said...

David, the guest post was emailed to me. I've just posted the Chinese text for you.

v.d., I had a similar thought, that the logic they used to cut out Tang Wei is a bit sexist :-). Apparently "Lan Yu" is well known in mainland China.

weezn said...

media in your face. theyll feed it to you for free here.


btw. your site is blocked here in beijing... of course.

Xujun Eberlein said...

weezn, did you use a proxy to access my blog?

Anonymous said...

yes