Platform

  • 2000
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Expansive and undeniably brilliant, Jia Zhang-ke's lengthy drama views life in the post-Mao People's Republic of China through the changing fortunes of a group of young provincial actors. The year is 1979, and Cui Minliang (Wang Hong-wei) and his friends Zhang Jun (Liang Jing-dong) and Yao Eryong (Wang Bo) all belong to the Peasant Culture Group, a traveling...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Expansive and undeniably brilliant, Jia Zhang-ke's lengthy drama views life in the post-Mao People's Republic of China through the changing fortunes of a group of young provincial actors. The year is 1979, and Cui Minliang (Wang Hong-wei) and his friends Zhang Jun (Liang Jing-dong) and Yao Eryong (Wang Bo) all belong to the Peasant Culture Group, a traveling theatrical company based in the northern village of Fenyang. Touring the tiny communes and villages that dot the Shanxi province, the young men remain unaware of the world around them, but are nevertheless enthralled by the foreign pop culture that has begun to trickle in: the bell-bottoms that are all the rage elsewhere in the world; the Bollywood musicals they watch at the village cinema; up-beat pop music from Taiwan. The theater group's repertory, however, remains dedicated to the state-approved, revolutionary classics, many still extolling the virtues of the late Chairman Mao. But as China begins to reappraise its past under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping — radio reports celebrate the official rehabilitation of the late leader Liu Shaoqi who, denounced as a traitor, died in prison — the theater chief, Mr. Xu, begins introducing a few progressive reforms; Zhang Jung's liberated girlfriend, Zhon Ping (Yang Tian-yi), who's taken up smoking, permed her hair and even plucks her eyebrows, now dances a flamenco as part of the program. The eventual privatization of the theater coincides with the 35th anniversary of the PRC, and Minliang's girlfriend, Yin Ruijian (Zhao Tao), begins to have second thoughts about the future under the company's new owner, Song Yongping. When the rest of the revitalized "Cultural Team" leaves for yet another trek across the barren country, Ruijan stays behind; she auditions for a dance company, but soon settles into the dull, disappointing life of a tax collector. As the promise of the new decade begins to pale, the company undergoes a radical transformation: Renamed the All-Star Rock and Breakdance Electronic Band, the once idealistic bearers of Mao's legacy now don spandex tights and perform poor imitations of Western pop acts from the back of a flatbed truck. Originally clocking in at a whopping 198 minutes, the film has been cut down to a more manageable 155 minutes for international release, but it remains a minor masterpiece of exquisitely subtle filmmaking. While focusing on the deferred dreams of a group of small town friends, Jiang captures the disappointment of an entire country.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Expansive and undeniably brilliant, Jia Zhang-ke's lengthy drama views life in the post-Mao People's Republic of China through the changing fortunes of a group of young provincial actors. The year is 1979, and Cui Minliang (Wang Hong-wei) and his friends Z… (more)

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