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Still Life (DVD) (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (English Subtitled) + Dong (2 Disc Edition) (China Version) DVD Region 6

Jia Zhangke (Director) | Zhao Tao (Actor) | Han San Ming (Actor)
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Still Life (DVD) (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (English Subtitled) + Dong (2 Disc Edition) (China Version)

YesAsia Editorial Description

Still Life comes with English Subtitles. Dong comes only with Chinese subtitles.

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.

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Technical Information

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
Release Date: 2007-01-09
Language: Mandarin
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
Disc Format(s): DVD
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

Product Information

* Screen Format : 4:3
* Sound Mix : Dolby AC-3

《三峽好人》﹕

  煤礦工人韓三明從汾陽來到奉節﹐尋找他十六年未見的前妻﹐兩人在長江邊相會﹐彼此相望﹐決定重婚。

  女護士沈紅從太原來到奉節﹐尋找她兩年未歸的丈夫﹐他們在三峽大壩前相擁相抱﹐一支舞后黯然分手﹐決定離婚。

  老縣城已經淹沒﹐新縣城還未蓋好﹐一些該拿起的要拿起﹐一些該舍棄的要舍棄。

《三峽好人》姐妹篇——《東》﹕

  2005年﹐中國奉節。

  畫家劉小東前往三峽地區創作油畫《溫床》﹐十二名拆遷工人成為他寫生的模特﹐這座有兩千年歷史的城市因三峽工程的建設而即將消逝﹐畫家也在與模特的相處中被現實征服。

  2006年﹐泰國曼谷。

  《溫床》的第二部分在曼谷進行﹐劉小東請來十二位熱帶女性為她們寫生﹐炎熱的城市讓女人們昏昏欲睡﹐唯有上地的水果鮮艷依舊。畫家因體力的付出而漸感勞累﹐女人們卻睜開眼合唱一曲歡快的歌。兩個城市都有河流經過﹐奔騰向前絕不回頭。

Additional Information may be provided by the manufacturer, supplier, or a third party, and may be in its original language

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Awards

This film has won 1 award(s) and received 3 award nomination(s). All Award-Winning Asian Films

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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)"

View Professional Review:
February 5, 2007

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.

DVD
Still Life is released in China by Warner Bros. The two-disc set contains the film Still Life as well as Jia's Three Gorges documentary Dong. A single disc edition of Still Life alone is also available. The film is presented on a single-layer disc in PAL format and is encoded for Region 6.

Video
Still Life is clearly shot on HD Digital and consequently the only flaw in its transfer to DVD is that the 1.78:1 image is presented without anamorphic enhancement. There is some minor motion blur visible occasionally, but this is most likely a consequence of the digital recording medium. The image shows excellent clarity, high contrast, vivid colours and no other flaws or marks. The image is resolutely stable. As a PAL image it can be zoomed to full widescreen with little loss of resolution.

Audio
The audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is clear throughout. The sound is directed mostly front and centre, and separation is not particularly strong, but it seems deliberately low-key in keeping with the nature of the film.

Subtitles
English subtitles are provided and, barring one or two minor issues and an indiscriminate use of capitalisation at the start of words, the subtitles are clear and grammatically fine. They cannot be changed during play, so you'll have to experiment through the Chinese menus to find the English subtitle option.

Extras
The two-disc edition of the film includes Jia Zhangke's documentary Dong (68 mins), filmed simultaneously at the time of Still Life. There are no English subtitles however for this film, which appears to focus on a local painter Liu Xiaodong and some of the models he uses from among the local population, including Han Sanming, who appears in the film.

Overall
China is one of those countries in the world where filmmaking is currently booming in reaction to a tremendous social upheaval, circumstances that have traditionally led to important film movements such as Italian neorealism and Japanese post-war cinema. Finding a way to represent these issues in cinema is an on-going challenge for Chinese filmmakers - no longer just in getting the films past the censors, but in capturing the sheer scale of its impact on a vast nation and the speed with which it is all happening. HD Digital Video then is an important tool in capturing the immediacy of events, and it is forcing directors to find a new cinematic language to express their ideas. At this point it is perhaps difficult to completely grasp the significance of new Chinese cinema, not only in terms of its influence on filmmaking or about what it tells us about social change in China, but about what it is telling us about the modern world and how what is happening there affects all of us. With directors like Jia Zhangke and films like Still Life tackling serious and relevant issues, we are seeing some of the most interesting cinema in the world today.

by Noel Megahey - DVD Times

January 18, 2007

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

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Customer Review of "Still Life (DVD) (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (English Subtitled) + Dong (2 Disc Edition) (China Version)"

Average Customer Rating for All Editions of this Product: Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10 (1)

Kevin Kennedy
See all my reviews


June 11, 2007

This customer review refers to Still Life (AKA: Sanxia Haoren) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
1 people found this review helpful

Fascinating slice of life Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10
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.
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