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Blind Shaft (2005) R0 Chinese Retail DVD
Much play has been made of the fact that "Blind Shaft" is not only a film about mining, it is also an underground work in that its director, Li Yang, emerged from outside China's official film making industry (he worked for much of his life in Germany) and shot the film illicitly. Indeed, the emergence of new, independent artists in China parallels Li Yang's study of a post-communist workforce.China's coalmines are notorious for their abuse of workers, their annual death toll, and the corruption of management and officials - much of the mining takes place in secret so it will remain unregulatedmore…. There are profits to be made, and the wages are relatively high for anyone who is prepared to take the risks and tolerate the conditions."Blind Shaft" follows two petty crooks (Song and Tang) who make a living killing their fellow workers then embezzling compensation from the mine bosses. After decades of the Maoist message that the working class is honourable and united, here we have two workers ruthlessly exploiting their comrades. They pick up a naive young boy to become their next victim, but their plans begin to come apart at the seams as questions of morality and luck trouble them.Li Yang pursued realism, filming underground in real mines, enlisting the aid of mine owners, shooting on the streets and in the shanty dormitories. Apart from the two leads, all the actors are amateurs. The camera is handheld throughout, creating a documentary feel in places. It also allows an intimacy in the portrayal of the miners - dangerous work, appalling living conditions, but they can laugh and joke and emerge as 'real' people with families, lives, and dreams way beyond the boundaries of the mine.China is a vast country - "China has shortages of everything except people," says one of the characters - but its population had been raised to eschew Western materialist values ... and then, suddenly, told to embrace capitalist ways. Li Yang exposes the moral confusion and sense of loss of identity which pervades the land - identity is something which can be bought on the black market, but it's not something individuals can readily retain.The characters in "Blind Shaft" bemoan the fact that they have been cut adrift. They have lost touch with their families and home. They have not enough money to continue their education and therefore their hopes of a better job. They live in a world in which everyone is struggling to survive - people sell themselves on the streets, a criminal underclass is highly visible, and anything and everything has its price.This is an extraordinarily tense, well-paced drama, relieved by moments of comedy. It also has an extraordinary sense of realism with the claustrophobia of the mining camps, the ever-present prospect of violence or industrial injury, and the huge, sprawling cities which emphasise that the individual is dispensable. Thoroughly engrossing drama which will hold your attention.
- Blind Shaft (2005) R0 Chinese Retail DVD
- 1600 x 1070 px
- 453 KB
- 41 (0 today)
- 03/05/07 by frostyice
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