Saturday, 8 September 2007

Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (1998)

Chinese title: Sky Bath.

The Chinese title is named after the title of the novel which this movie is based. It probably refers to the open bath that Lao Jin builds for Xiu Xiu. Lao Jin rarely has shower as water is scarce and the nearest source is more than 1km away. To indulge her city folks' habit for regular bathing, Lao Jin builds this pool, which is as large as the tent he lives in.

Xiu Xiu the Sent Down Girl 1998This film makes me think of Blind Mountain. I'm not saying they're the same movies, although they do share many similarities. I guess the brutality and the callousness of men towards the 2 respective heroines, and the stark contrast of this inhumanity with the backdrop of unspoilt natural beauty. This parallel becomes even stronger when the expression for this Cultural Movement is called 'Sending up mountains and down villages". Blind Mountain is about our heroine being trapped up in a remote mountain village. Both heroines use their body as currency as that's the only thing they've got under the circumstances.

One last similarity, both directors were banned from making movies for a number of years. Although with Joan Chen's case, the ban is probably more severe.

This remoteness, both physically and politically, is what traps our heroine. It's also this very same reason the Joan Chen was able to shoot this movie and avoided the authority's close scrutiny. Especially when this film was shot before it was approved. She outfoxed the iron-fist authority by shooting this film using approval for another project.

This film garners quite a number of international film awards. The fact that it's banned in China helps because making a film while fighting the Film Bureau is like doing it with one hand tying behind one's back.

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