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Movie Review: Still Life

Still Life is a powerful movie that portrays the positive and negative movement of Chinese people lives after the construction of gigantic Three Gorges Dam in China. The director of the movie, Jia Zhang-ke has been successfully able to depict the real situation of people in Fengjie, China. The movie has revealed the social, political and economical issues related to the dam. After the construction of the dam, the poor are becoming poorer because their fertile land and building have vanished under the water of the dam. Many people have been displaced and migrated to different places in search of better opportunities. There has been conflict among people. In some scenes, we can see that the people have lost their livelihood and that they are living a dejected life in their own land, so the people are ready to take any risks in their lives.

Although, the protagonist, Sanming and Shen Hong, shared similar culture, language, and story, the story ends differently. Both of them are in search of their missing spouses. Sanming is a coal miner, who went to Fengjie in search of his wife and a daughter who had left him 16 years ago. Most of the time Sanming watches three Gorges River where it can be assumed that he still has hopes in his life. He has to break concrete wall of houses in order to survive until he meets them. We can hear diegetic sound coming from the hammering site of the city. Likewise, when the workers are resting, the camera moves slowly and repeatedly over them to focus on workers.

Similarly, Shen is a nurse who came to Fengjie in search of her husband because her husband had not contacted her in the past two years. She wears fine (nice) clothes which show that she is from the middle class and her husband is the head of the “Demolition Authority Headquarter”. However, she does not eat anything and she constantly fills her water bottle to drink wherever she goes. Furthermore, we hardly see smiles on people’s faces. Therefore, the movie has been able to depict the social disparity of Chinese people through Sanming and Shen Hong after the construction of the dam.

Moreover, we can also see that the government officer is not serious about the circumstances of the people because a crowd is complaining to the government officer for not getting compensation. We can see anxiety, anger and desperation in their faces when the camera captures the medium close up. In two different shots, Sanming meets his wife but is unable to find his daughter. In contrast, Shen meets her husband, but she wants a divorce from him although she seems that she wants her husband from the beginning of the movie.

Therefore, at the end of the movie, both couples did not get together although it seems that they were in search of their beloved one. It can also be presumed that the construction of dam has detached the happiness of people because many people have been displaced in the name of development. Love, respects, self dignity and desires have disappeared from the people’s lives. Thus, after watching the movie, it can be concluded that the dam has discouraged the dream of people by worsening their lives. Therefore, please friends have a look at least once.



JaniceW's picture

Thank you

I have not heard about this movie and so now will look out for it. I was so angry when I heard about the dam project and all the people who were displaced with little compensation or consideration. From my perspective, it seemed as if they were treated no better than trees in the way of the dam that needed to be chopped down and removed. Families were disrupted, torn apart and livelihoods vanished in a moment. I am not sure I will feel much better after watching this but am sure I will enjoy it from a cinematic viewpoint. Thank you for sharing it with us,

sunita.basnet's picture

You welcome

Hello Didi,

First of all, I apologize for replying you so lately. I was damm busy with my final presentation and exams so was unable to connect with World Pulse members. I hope you understand. Now I have only one presentation left! happy happy!

Yeah I agree with you! While watching this movie, it made me cry when the father was unknown to his daughter when he wanted to meet her and support her. It also bring the conflict in the marriage life. Women are using by their brothers, husband and others. People has lost their identity. ...............
Yes! I will encourage you to watch this movie!

Love much

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

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