5 films to watch before you go to China
Before you head out to teach English in China, why not acquaint yourself with this vast and diverse country? This could be in various aspects such as history, culture, tradition, food, lifestyle, economy and development among others. There are many avenues to gain information about China. Everything from books, films, documentaries, music, speeches and the media. Most importantly, focus your search to your area of operation. China is a vast country and therefore, it will take you quite some time to know the whole country.
This article highlights five films you really must watch before going to China.
1. Yellow Earth
Released in 1984, Yellow Earth features northern Shaanxi Province. A drama directed by Chen Kaige, it showcases the effects of forced marriages on teenage Chinese women. It premiered before the communist takeover.
The year is 1939. A communist soldier visits Shaanxi province in search of folk songs for the army. A peasant family takes him in. It is a low-income family, a father, his son and daughter. The family has amazing voices and sings beautifully. The soldier helps with household chores. He accompanies the daughter to fetch water from the river every day. Eventually, the soldier falls in love with the 14-year-old girl. He plans to marry her and the father agrees to it. He sells her off. However, the soldier has to go back to the military camp. He will come and fetch his wife later.
The peasant’s daughter is not ready for marriage. She flees from her home. When the soldier comes back for her, he gets disappointed. His supposed wife escaped finding liberation. This is the face of the Peoples liberation army as seen at the end of the 89-minute video.
Hero is a 96-minute action film. Based on a true story, it premiered in 2004. The scenes feature Sichuan, Guilin, Guangxi and Inner Mongol regions.
This film shows Jing Ke’s attempt to assassinate Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 227 BC. Jet Li takes up the role of the nameless assassin. He uses his martial arts prowess, which is indicative of the warring period experienced in the Qin Dynasty. Some scenes have violent episodes; viewer discretion advised.
At the end of this film, the nameless assassin (Jet Li) eventually gives up his intention to kill the king. However, he stabs him with the edge of his sword. He develops faith in the emperor. He believes that the leader can stop the chaos in the empire, as well as promote harmony.
3. 7 years in Tibet
This is the true story of an Australian hiker by the name of Heinrich Harriers. He survived the 2nd World War and ran off to Tibet. In Tibet, he met and made friends with Dalai Lama in Tibet.
Brad Pitt stars this movie and shows the great positive impact Dalai Lama made on Heinrich. Dalai teaches the virtue of patience, humility and selflessness. Largely, most scenes of this movie feature in Argentina and Tibet. Viewers see the unique culture of the Tibetans. It also captures the beauty of nature Tibet has to offer.
4. To live
To live happened in Shandong Province and released in 1994. It plays for 133 minutes. This film, based on a book, and tells the story of a rich man’s son. The period is in the 1940s. Fugui has sunken deep into gambling addiction. He ends up selling his family house. As a result of this, his wife leaves him on his own. He gets poorer by the day and eventually becomes a peasant.
Due to loneliness, Fugui becomes a nationalist soldier. He joins to fight communist soldiers in the civil war. By the time Fugui returns to his hometown, he finds a communal village. All capitalists get executed and for this reason, Fugui becomes a communist too.
This movie showcases the political situation of China from the 1940s all the way to the Cultural Revolution. This revolution took place in the 1960s.
5. Beijing Bicycle
Beijing Bicycle is a 113-minute-long film released in 2001. It gives the life story of a Chinese teenage boy. Guei goes to Beijing determined to make it in life. Luckily, he lands a job as a messenger. He receives a commission for every delivery made. Things begin to look up for him as he’s making a living.
One day, his delivery bike gets stolen. He walks the entire town searching for his bike. Another teenage boy from the other side of town stole it. His name is Jian. One day, as Guei is making a delivery, he notices his bike parked along a pavement, Guei tries to retrieve it from the rack. Unfortunately, the security guard stops him. Guei sits and waits to see the person who picks the bike. He traces the bike to Jian and takes it back. In retaliation, Jian gets his gang to beat Guei mercilessly. They take Guei’s bike away from him again.
What follows is a series of exchange of the bike between Guei and Jian. Violent scenes present when Jian’s gang attacks Guei. However, Guei eventually repossesses his bike and carries on with his delivery job.