Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Blind Shaft (2003)

Blind Shaft (2003)Banned in China (for its brutal honesty). Beijing Film Bureau never explains to the director as to why. Well, you couldn't really expect the Bureau to be equally honest and said, "We don't like your honesty! We only want you to make propaganda movies that sing China praises". Let's say it's a tacit agreement.

This movie is based on the book title Sacred Wood. I don't know about being sacred. I suppose the wood refers to the coal - a commodity that fuel China's current industrialization, but at the cost of many lives. To prevent such dire human toll, the government puts in strict measure to punish those coal mine operators that are unsafe. This government action gives rise to such scam as depicted in the film. This reminds me of Mao's mandate for increased industrial output. The result wasn't an actual increase, but a masquerade of increase.

This Chinese movie title is Blind Well. In both Chinese and English title, the common, and indeed the operative word is 'BLIND'. Blind as in one way; blind as in pitch darkness, blind as in blind justice, blind as in the country kid's ignorance to the deadly scam, blind as in government total oblivion of the how its policy backfires, and blind as in how the coal mine operators are blind to the con-men's scams because they're con-men to the government themselves.

The realism is so raw that its believability of the situation is unquestioned with scenes from the poverty stricken mining town's streets to the local whorehouse to their living quarters. The principle actors too delivered their realism that would match the backdrop. The lightning is harsh and gives 1 the impression the movie is monochromatic.

Apart from pointing out this particular problem of coal mine operations, as usual the general social commentary is there, as in many Chinese award winning dramas, is characteristically and splendidly unflinching, and uncompromising. How much does a coal miner worth in China? About 10,000 yuan (or about 1,250 USD/AUD/SGD).

What the Bureau SHOULD be doing is making this film available to Chinese, especially the coal mine oprators and policy makers, and prevent the movie being shown outside China to prevent their paramount concern of a loss of face. Well, guess what, the reverse is achieved by the Bureau because of their self-denial, which usually twists their logics that makes it totally incomprehnsible to the outsider and most importantly, to themselves.

It won numerous awards because, more than any reason, of the Bureau's heavy handed cencorship. The more the Bureau's attempt to silence a voice that should be heard, the louder the voice gets. BTW, most Chinese would be able to watch this and ALL other banned movies WITHIN China. It's just goes underground. Like I said, the Film Bureau lives in self-denial - sweeping rubbish under the carpet and pretends it isn't there. In other words, they're BLIND.

It won 16 international film awards.

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