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A Dictated Life Essay

1836 words - 7 pages

Recent historical events in China have often influenced popular culture in a country with a strong military presence and a governmental law that heavily impacts the general population. How film directors chose to analyze the effects that the government has over the citizens and recreate their vision of what China looks like to an outsider is powerful for the viewer, especially if he or she is not accustomed to their way of life. Therefore, it is crucial for these directors to adequately and appropriately act as a lens for the world to see into the Chinese culture and for Chinese men and women to view the world by how outsiders react to each unique portrayal of their country. In particular, it is incredibly interesting to observe the overt existence of weapons (whether they are guns or social daggers) as they appear in these Chinese films. A violent presence progresses in Chinese subcultures through different periods of Chinese history for entertainment purposes in the films; 11 Flowers, Touch of Sin, and The Bullet Vanishes, while Caught in the Web and Feng Shui are movies in which the directors chose to approach modern-day China in a more dramatic and emotional fashion.
While a film can give insight to the culture under observation, it is subject to creative and personal influences by the director and actors alike and beyond just the influences that could potentially shape the perceptions that viewers have based on the director’s creative license, an important impact on the viewer is the time period the film is portraying and the effect that the release date could have on that because of current events and communal relations. Chi-Leung Law’s The Bullet Vanishes acts as a starting point for the timeline created by that and other Chinese films, 11 Flowers and Touch of Sin. Set during the Chinese warlord era but released in 2012, The Bullet Vanishes opens at night with a set that is obscenely fake, making it look more like a movie shot in the intended time period, meant to counter a Sherlock Holmes-type plot. Following the crime and punishment theme of Law’s film, Wang Xiaoshuai’s 11 Flowers reflects Chairman Mao’s dictatorship and the obvious intended feeling for the audience is one of meekness and depression, but especially struggle. As in 11 Flowers, the main characters argue over frivolous purchases and the absent, working husband and father displays the state of chaotic authoritarianism that is the Chinese government and presiding influencing the family dynamic. Xiaoshuai makes an obvious effort to depict the period as harmful to the population. Touch of Sin’s director, Zhangke Jia follows Xisoshuai in depicting Chinese gun violence as increasingly prevalent by creating four loosely connected scenarios that offer no solace or end to gun violence as a major part of Chinese society.
Violence as a part of popular culture is an important indicator of the ways in which a particular society functions when a threatening force has...

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