The World Screen 4 articles

The World

2004

The World Poster
  • Jia is troubling to me. I do see the need for a politically conscious, formally talented, and actively provocative Chinese director--but can't he like his characters a little more? They all turn into metaphors, and such harsh ones too, here even moreso than inUnknown Pleasures, where at least we had motorcycle scenes to leaven things up. It's all confined space in The World, suffocating enclosure, a fortress that keeps its own citizens in, torturing them with delusions of somewhere grander.

  • Suggesting at different moments a backstage musical, a failed love story, a surreal comedy, and even a cartoon fantasy, this beautiful, corrosive, visionary masterpiece by Jia Zhang-ke (2004) is a frighteningly persuasive account of the current state of the planet.

  • He films characters who bear the scars of history even as its truths are so often denied to them, for whom the persistence and suppression of history is one of the fundamental facts of contemporary life in China, and for whom “hallucinatory realism” is a frank depiction of the nightmarish quality of Chinese daily life.

  • While dramatizing this distance, the elusiveness of the real thing behind the perfect image, the film also suggests a more universal media critique. Dressing up in approximately appropriate ethnic costume in front of the Taj Mahal or a Japanese teahouse, Tao is a projected avatar, albeit one constantly running up against the practical limitations of her simulations—she and an imported Russian coworker share several wrenching scenes together, having no common language except empathy.

More Links