The World (2004)


Remember how in my Hero post, I shared how I have never been left so confused after watching a movie. Well…. Here comes The World!

Oh my, this takes the cake. Personally, it was very boring. Not only was it more than two hours long, each scene was painfully slow and the cinematography looked bad too (simply because it looked like a homemade documentary)! Later I found out The World was filmed in a docu-realism1 way. I finished half a bag of Doritos and I almost cried after the film because I did not understand anything and had to write this post! Through the readings discussing The World, I understood this film better. Hence.. Here it is. 🙂 

The World, by Jia ZhangKe is a film about theme park workers at the Beijing World Park. Beijing World Park is a real theme park in China, attracting some 1.5 million visitors a year. Tourists will get to see and experience the whole world without leaving the park. For example, take a look of the view from the “Versailles” palace grounds vs the real Versailles view: 



It is so similar! The two side decorated grass patches, the fountain structure…

They even have pyramids, haha China is amazing.


Now, this theme park seems to have been deliberately chosen by Jia to reveal to us the effects of globalisation on China, and how these migrant youths are ‘left behind’, and hence can only experience the outside world through this theme park. Even though they were working in a beautiful theme park, it sheds the painful truth that they are continuously stuck in “the world” forever. This was further emphasised in the mise en scene, where the theme park workers live within the park, in quite tattered and worn down dormitories:


The paint on the walls were chipping off, the bed does not look plush, they actually sleep on an extra kind of mat on top of the mattress and the room does not even have proper lights (Just a lightbulb affixed to the wall)! This life the workers were living were certainly a far cry from what they portray to the outside world (as seen through the dancers’ costumes and magnificent replica of well known buildings). This juxtaposition was clearly seen throughout the film.


Some parts of the movie which I did not initially understand was whenever a text message is received, the film transforms into some kind of animation. These animation scenes always start with a close up of the phone and the text message, followed by very brightly coloured animation. At first I thought it was very poorly made, but I realised these scenes were methods of escapism for the characters. These animation scenes were of a completely different style when compared to the ‘boring’ documentary, realist style shoot that this film was filmed in.


Despite the very deep meanings behind The World, I would still say I did not enjoy it. Given, this would be classified as an art piece, rather than a usual movie. For people pursing film as a specialist for a further study or as a career, this would be a must watch. For me, well.. not yet.


1^”Docu-Realism In Contemporary Chinese Film”. 2008. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 30 May 2017.



4 thoughts on “The World (2004)

  1. I agree 101% that the entire film was really difficult to watch, taking into accounting that after all we are not used to typically watching docu-realism films. It was really quite confusing why was there animation in the film, but it made sense upon reading the readings and learning that they were to represent American influence and how technology was used as a form of escapism for these migrants youths.

    Despite that, the director undoubtedly manage to portray and represent the true lives the migrant youths were living during that period of time as globalization takes over the rest of China. The living quarters contrast with what the park shows with all these well-known international buildings and structures also emphasizes on the efforts to show to vast difference. Great job hanging tight and analyzing the film ☺


  2. The movie really is painful to watch it through and it’s only because it was very draggy and the storyline came off quite vague from my perspective. However, after more research done and through the reading of Jia Zhangke, only did I realise the auteurship of his cinematography.

    As a director that aims to shed light on the struggles of the people in China through the depiction of their daily lives, I realised how dull and boring life is like for them. The repetitive day-to-day routine and the mood of the film was clearly depicted through Jia’s method of filming. Aside from escapism, he also focuses on realism by which spectators get to experience first hand, the events in the movie that unfold before their eyes in an uncompressed timeframe. A key feature in this film that makes movies like his, a rarity in the world of cinematography.

    Your review definitely captivated me with the use of vivid pictures, videos and GIFs as it helped to further elaborate your points of the show as well as a basis of comparison with what spectators can expect to identify with in terms of the monuments at the Beijing World Park. Good job, keep up the good work!


  3. The most boring and abstract movie that I’ve watched in my entire life. Hey but if we understood the hidden meaning by the director, it’s pretty amazing and fulfilling. I definitely agreed that this film portray mostly on how Globalization has affected China and its people, especially the youth. It was seen that they were “trapped” in the world park and with bad living conditions.

    I was confused initially when there’s animations popped out abruptly. But like what you’ve mentioned, it’s all about how China planned on following the Western’s way of doings and how it is an escapism for the youth there to temporary get out from their miseries.

    Very deep and interesting analysis! I would say it is not a film for me as well, I still prefer movies with standard story-lines (: Kudos!


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