Still Life (DVD) (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (English Subtitled) + Dong (2 Disc Edition) (China Version) DVD Region 6
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YesAsia Editorial Description
Mainland Chinese director Jia Zhangke's Still Life (aka Sanxia Haoren), a last minute entry into the 2006 Venice Film Festival, eventually won the Golden Lion award thanks to its top-notch cinematography and wonderful storytelling. Still Life interweaves the story of a miner (Han Sanming) who travels thousands of miles to a town near the Yangtze River to look for his ex-wife and a nurse fetching her husband who has been working at the river without sending a single word home. While the film does not let these two characters cross paths, together they reflect changes in people's lives brought by the Three Gorges Dam, which flooded villages near the Yangtze River and led to the emergence of some new settlements. Already acclaimed for his earlier works, most of which also star Han Sanming and Zhao Tao, Jia is probaby the best known Sixth Generation director. With Still Life, he continues his probing grassroots studies of Chinese life.
Jia's previous acclaimed titles Platform (2000) and The World (2004) also competed at the Venice Film Festival. He has also set a record for Chinese directors by having two films selected for the Venice Film Festival, the other entry being his documentary Dong in the Horizons section. Dong documents painter Liu Xiaodong portraying twelve workers who are demolishing buildings to facilitate the Three Gorges Dam project in 2006. The second half of the documentary flies to Bangkok and tells the life of twelve women living there.
|Product Title:||Still Life (DVD) (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (English Subtitled) + Dong (2 Disc Edition) (China Version) 三峽好人 (DVD) (中英文字幕) + 東 (中國版) 叁峡好人 (DVD) (中英文字幕) + 东 (中国版) 長江哀歌 (三峡好人) (中国語/英語字幕) + 東 (中国版) Still Life (DVD) (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (English Subtitled) + Dong (2 Disc Edition) (China Version)|
|Artist Name(s):||Zhao Tao (Actor) | Han San Ming (Actor) 趙濤 (Actor) | 韓三明 (Actor) 赵涛 (Actor) | Han San Ming (Actor) 趙涛（チャオ・タオ） (Actor) | 韓三明（ハン・サンミン） (Actor) Zhao Tao (Actor) | Han San Ming (Actor)|
|Director:||Jia Zhangke 賈樟柯 贾樟柯 賈樟柯 （ジャ・ジャンクー） Jia Zhangke|
|Subtitles:||English, Simplified Chinese|
|Country of Origin:||China|
|Picture Format:||PAL What is it?|
|Aspect Ratio:||1.33 : 1|
|Sound Information:||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Region Code:||6 - China What is it?|
|Publisher:||Zhong Guo Lu Yin Lu Xiang Chu Ban Zong She|
|Other Information:||2 DVDs|
|Package Weight:||150 (g)|
|Shipment Unit:||1 What is it?|
|YesAsia Catalog No.:||1004613127|
* Sound Mix : Dolby AC-3
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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features
Professional Review of "Still Life (DVD) (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (English Subtitled) + Dong (2 Disc Edition) (China Version)"
The changes that China is undergoing as part of its relentless progress towards modernisation and its integration into the wider world as a global economic force are something that the country's most progressive young filmmakers simply cannot ignore. Its impact, particularly on the poorer people displaced by the social and economic reforms, have already been addressed in films such as Diao Yinan's Uniform and Ning Hao's Mongolian Ping Pong, and even the Fifth Generation filmmaker Chen Kaige alluded to tremendous cultural riches being bulldozed away in the headlong rush towards capitalisation in his segment of the portmanteau film Ten Minutes Older, 100 Flowers Hidden Deep.
The issue has been of increasing importance for Jia Zhangke, one of China's most important young filmmakers, who has gradually moved away from his depictions of individual alienation and isolation in Xiao Wu, Platform, and Unknown Pleasures to a wider consideration of the place of China in the world today and the consequent social upheaval this means for its inhabitants. This was clearly evident in Jia's previous film The World and is expanded on further in his latest film, Still Life, the winner of the Golden Lion at Venice 2006. Not content with a fictional representation of the cultural, environmental, and social vandalism currently being enacted through the 15-year construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze depicted therein, the director supported the film with the documentary Dong, a real-life depiction of people living in the region seen through the eyes of painter Liu Xiaodong.
Still Life shows the arrival of two people to Fengjie in the Sichuan province of China. Han Sanming (Han Sanming) arrives in the city looking for his daughter who he hasn't seen since he split up from his wife sixteen years ago, but he finds that the address of the house he is looking for is no longer in existence. It is underwater, flooded in an early phase of the creation of the Three Gorges Dam. While he searches for relatives and anyone who might know where they might have relocated, he takes on work, helping demolish and clear sites for the next phase in the creation of the dam. Shen Hang (Zhao Tao), a nurse, also arrives in Fengjie looking for her husband Guo Bin who hasn't been in contact with her for two years. An important and busy man, meeting clients and businessmen connected with the construction of the dam, even his friend Dongming hasn't seen him for a year. Shen Hang however has issues that they need to resolve.
Through these two characters, their character and their relationships, Jia Zhangke tries to relate the circumstances of the people not only of Fengjie, but the wider population in China. The director has a difficult task to balance the contrivance of fictional drama and not letting it overwhelm the reality of social issues it raises, and largely it succeeds - though much will depend on individual viewer responses to what is shown and how it is presented. Incidental details reveal not only how a city with 2,000 years of history and culture is being thoughtlessly destroyed, but how the administration is failing to consider the people who live there, failing to relocate them and cater for the loss of their businesses. A young girl approaches Shen Hang looking for work as a maid, prepared to move away anywhere that she can get the work. When Han Sanming prepares to return to his home province of Shanxi, he tells his fellow construction workers that they are welcome to come there looking for work, but warns that they will find life as a coal miner in the provinces no easier than in the rapidly changing Sichuan region.
All this gives some indication of the wider impact of China's rush towards modernisation, where the only people who benefit will be major corporations, not the people in the provinces. The authorities are notable here by their absence, and all the decisions seem to be taken by big business corporations. Just as much is imparted to the viewer in the relationships of the central characters, but in a much more oblique fashion, which might not resonate with every viewer. Each of the stories unfolds at a slow pace, the camera panning along with the characters, showing impressive views of the Yangtze in the background. The destruction in their relationships, their uncertainty of their situation is all mirrored in the city that is gradually being torn down around them, and it is perhaps the sense of the loss of certainties in their life that the Jia Zhangke is trying to capture rather than any direct metaphorical meaning.
Searching perhaps for other ways to convey underlying meaning, much is also imparted through the strong presence of music and songs in the film. Most bizarrely, space-age special effects occur at several points in the film, flying saucers soaring overhead and a bizarre construction that takes off like a rocket ship. Their intrusion into these scenes of ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives, only serves to underline the deep culture shock that is unfolding. We cannot yet imagine the full sense of meaning and impact that this will have on the people of China, but it will keep Chinese film directors like Jia Zhangke very busy making films for many years to come.
by Noel Megahey - DVD Times
This professional review refers to Still Life (DVD) (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (English Subtitled) (China Version)
Still Life, the latest film from Sixth Generation Chinese director Jia Zhangke, caused a stir in 2006 as a last-minute entry to the Venice International Film Festival, and surprised many critics by winning the coveted Golden Lion award. In hindsight, it's perhaps not too difficult to see why the film might have appealed so much to the jury, who in recent years have been bombarded with shoddy big budget Chinese period epics like The Promise and The Banquet. In comparison, Jia's film is an unashamedly art-house affair, complete with beautiful cinematography, a cast made up largely of non-professionals, a topical contemporary subject, and a meandering, obscure plot which though determinedly grounded in everyday life, has a few touches of jaw-dropping weirdness thrown in for good measure. Of course, such things are very much par for the course with the director, though Still Life is probably his most accessible outing to date, mainly due to the fact that it actually does have a coherent narrative of sorts, unlike most of his previous works.
The film follows two basic stories, the first concerning Han Sanming (played by an actor with the same name), a miner who returns to the small town of Fengjie in the Three Gorges area to look for his ex-wife and daughter, only to find that during his sixteen-year absence, the place has been flooded. At the same time, a nurse called Shen Hong (Zhao Tao, in many of the director's previous films), also arrives looking for her own husband, who has been working on the dam project and who she seems to suspect of having an affair. As she chases around after the elusive spouse, Han Sanming decides to stay on in the remains of the town as a demolitions worker, and their two stories reveal the ways in which the government project has affected the lives of the local people.
As might be anticipated, Still Life is a film which meanders throughout, and is driven by observations and anecdotes rather than a traditional narrative. The two main strands of the plot tend to drift along, and although they complement each other, never really converge as such. To be fair, these are not really criticisms as such, since Jia seems to be aiming to paint a picture and to provide a thoughtful rumination on an important event in modern China rather than telling a story. Indeed, the film frequently has a documentary feel to it, moving very slowly, with plenty of long camera shots which seem equally intent in capturing what is happening in the background as the foreground action, such as it is. Jia shows a great attention to detail, with people shown going about their everyday lives and given almost as much focus as the main characters. The protagonists themselves are never really fleshed out, with their motivations, and much of the plot itself being left up to the interpretation of the viewer, with very little ever being explicitly explained or resolved. Again, given the nature of the film, this never frustrates, and adds to the impression that what Jia is trying to create is a piece of cinematic poetry.
The film certainly looks great, and Jia composes some very beautiful shots both of the surrounding countryside and the dilapidated town. There is a definite melancholy air hanging over the proceedings, tinged with nostalgia, with plenty of relics from the past being included and mist clouding the horizon. This quite nicely fits in with the minimalism of the narrative and furthers the dreamlike impression of the film, almost as if it were a half-forgotten memory.
All such lofty aims and talk of lyricism aside, it's worth noting that Still Life features a couple of moments which are quite frankly insane and which stand out against the rest of its patient naturalism. Without wishing to give too much away, these scenes, which are included for no discernable reason save the most abstract of symbolism, are utterly mystifying, though they do serve to provide a few laughs and to liven things up. Actually, the film does contain its fair share of laughs, for example through a strange character who is obsessed with Chow Yun Fat, and who attempts to imitate A Better Tomorrow on several occasions to amusing effect (Jia does have a clip from the film showing in the background at one point, and on another occasion has the theme song from Chow's famous television series The Bund playing).
These add a nice sense of playfulness to the film and help to lift things from ever becoming too pretentious. Needless to say, Still Life is quite obviously a film which still requires a certain amount of patience from viewers, though it is also one which is surprisingly entertaining as well as providing the expected quotient of intellectual musing and gorgeous visuals.
by James Mudge - BeyondHollywood.com
Customer Review of "Still Life (DVD) (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (English Subtitled) + Dong (2 Disc Edition) (China Version)"
See all my reviews
June 11, 2007
This customer review refers to Still Life (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
Fascinating slice of life
A dictionary definition of a "still life" is "a work of art depicting inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural or man-made."
In the movie "Still Life", we see commonplace people in commonplace natural and man-made settings, with a virtually inanimate story. To say that this movie is glacially paced may not be strong enough; this may be the slowest paced movie I've ever seen. A man is searching for the wife and daughter he has not seen for 16 years; his primary motivation seems to be just to see what his daughter has become. A woman is searching for the husband she has not seen for two years; she wants a divorce so that she can remarry. Eventually these people find their partners ... and not much happens.
And yet I was mesmerized by the film. I enjoyed every moment of this "still life" movie. It superbly brings to static life the look and feel (and almost the smell!) of daily life among ordinary folks in this soon-to-disappear Three Gorges milieu.
If you want action, drama, romance, suspense, etc., perhaps you should look elsewhere. If you want to be deeply immersed into a hyper-realistic look at ordinary lives in central China coupled with some truly spectacular cinematography of the Three Gorges area, then I highly recommend this film.