the chinese train
happy chinese new year! have y'alls seen 'zhou yu's train'?

gong li plays zhou yu, a woman who paints on porcelein. it's a beautifully poetic movie that shows you much of what looks like northern china. zhou yu grew up next to train tracks and isn't afraid of riding them until the furthest stations.

one day on a business trip, chen qing meets zhou yu and writes her a poem. he flees, leaving her his bag. one day, zhou yu travelled to his town, several hours by train from hers, and returned him his bag. he then shyly presented her with several poems. "i wrote you one poem a day since that night," he said. or something to that extent. the movie is in mandarin with english subtitles.

the photography is entrancing - how train tracks lead invisibly onward and onward, how the mountains and green hills and rural towns show a fertile and promising china. i think the movie is an allegory to china itself - how silently and quickly it promises to grow, if given a chance.

it has the skilled professionals in zhou yu (painter), zhang qiang (veterinarian), and chen qing (poetry/teaching). it has the sophisticated infrastructure - trains that extend to infinity, rivers breeched by cable cars and boats, dirt roads to the ends of tibet. the cities are ancient but not yet matured, already bursting the riverbanks - there's this one shot of qing's islandlike town crowded with skyscrapers, industrial and postindustrial, ancient but young because its inhabitents refuse to grow old. the storytelling weaves between past and present, as if the events are one and the same.

that's why, when i joked that everyone should learn chinese, i kinna meant it. the chinese government is trying to curb its 1 billion population. they are battling a skewed boys to girls ratio by giving government grants to families whose children are two girls. in ancient times, they've travelled the world and invented writing and they're just too busy elsewhere to catalogue their exploits in their new homelands. their national historians know this, of course. someone just needs to research and put it to modern speech so the rest of us can understand.

you should always remember, with a communist background, that chinese movies may have some form of propaganda interlaced in their works. my unpolished sophistication rises to the occasion every time i try to take apart films like this, ahahahaha. north asia's purty cool.

... yes, the film tells another type story as well, but i don't talk about those things in blogs. ahahahahaha.
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