Like The World, Still Life was directed by Jia Zhangke. I was feeling horrified when I realised I had to watch another one of his films. They were very artistic (a little too much for my liking), and his film style of documentary + fiction, and uncompressed time made it painfullyyy slooowww to watch.
Still Life uses the real history and events of building the Three Gorges Dam to set the film in context. The construction of the dam has caused the displacement of more than one million people, as flooding occured due to construction. This films tells the story man in search of his daughter after being estranged from his wife.
Jia Zhangke prides himself with how “My(his) camera never lies”. However, there were several instances in the film that was more “supernatural”, and did not make sense to me at all. For example, an unusual looking building launches and flies into space. Also, when a woman spots a Undefinable Flying Object in the far sky.
I thought it was a familiar use of juxtaposition, in The World and Still Life: as seen here, the rocket was able to launch successfully and up and away. This, despite the fact it is a torn down building, representing death as no one lives there or has any use for the building. Also, the mise-en-scene where the rocket was flying, what takes central position is the tank top hanging, possibly left to dry. In such an advanced world/ city that a building is able to fly, people are still hanging their clothes and not using the clothes dryer? Hmm…
Haha, Jia Zhangke and his antics, I have yet to understand. In The World, we had the transition from a text message to an animation sequence. In Unknown pleasures, we see extreme repetition of scenes (The man pushed the girl down 8 times as she tried to escape from his trailer! EIGHT TIMES). In Still Life, we see supposedly still, dead objects coming to life (Is this some form of escapism too??). Perhaps a symbol of China’s industrialization and progression too?
There is a lot more to talk about this film, but for around 300 words, these should suffice. Regarding Jia Zhanke’s films, as our lecturer puts it: ‘ I hope you don’t have to watch Jia Zhangke’s films after this module’. ‘Watching Jia Zhangke’s film makes you feel like you have wasted half of your life’. Still Life was my third Jia Zhangke film, the first two being The World, and Unknown Pleasures. After watching 3 Jia Zhangke’s films, I feel like I could accomplish anything.
1^ Sun, J. (2002). Selecting Images in the Experimental World: An Interview with Jia Zhangke. Avant-garde Today.