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Yang Fudong's Cinematic Influences

Saturday, September 7, 2013
6:30 p.m. Yellow Earth
Chen Kaige (China, 1984)

Imported Print!


(Huang Tudi). Nearly thirty years on, it’s still hard to underestimate the power and force of Yellow Earth, not only as a work of art, but as a cultural milestone that launched China’s Fifth Generation film movement and introduced two major voices to world cinema, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. In the late 1930s, a communist activist is sent to the dry, dusty plains of Shanxi Province to collect folk songs, and befriends two young children, whom he tells of the great new society that communism will bring. In the eternal dust of Shanxi, though, hope has a way of evaporating. A cacophony of brilliant colors, joyous and heartbreaking songs, and framed faces both beautiful and hardened, Yellow Earth is still unlike any film of its, or any, Generation, turning sound, landscape, and political history into blistering poetry. Cinematographer Zhang Yimou would, of course, go on to become a key director in his own right, and later the creator of the Beijing Olympics ceremonies.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Chen, Zhang Ziliang, based on the epic poem Silent Is the Ancient Plain. Photographed by Zhang Yimou. With Wang Xueyin, Bai Xue, Liu Qiang, Tan Tuo. (89 mins, In Chinese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From China Film Archive)