Saturday, 8 September 2007

The Bird People in China (1998)

The Bird People in China (1998)This director make several films with two recurrent elements : yakuza and Chinese. This film also has both.

The bird people phenomenom is what anthropologists call the Cargo Cult. I 1st heard about it regarding to the New Guinea tribal natives' spotting of a plane, of which they had never seen, and evntually turned it into a religion.

Yunnan has many tourist attractions, both natural and cultural. Many tourists (such as myself) go there to see the very colourful Chinese ethnic communities (PRC calls them nationalities). These ethnic communities are in various stages of cultural developments. Some even have villages marked by totem poles. The point is, some, like 1 ethnic group depicted in this movie would have developed this cargo cult because of their pre-industrial tribal culture.

This film isn't just about the cargo cult, but about how the Japanese characters relate and connect to them.

This film reminds me of Zhang Yimou's Riding Along For Thousands of Miles (2005) because of its many similarities, not the least is that both movies' central characters is a Japanese travelling to Yunnan in a spiritual quest. Indeed, that's what these 2 movies are all about - a hero's journey on a spiritual quest.

Most of the comments I made about that movie is applicable here. Perhaps, audience who's interested in this movie are probably interested in that film as well. You can read my comment on that movie in my other IMDB list.

I don't know if the bird people in Yunnan is a historical fact, or simply a work of fiction by the script writer. Regardless, it's a little known anthropological phenomena that worth understanding.

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