165:262 The Chinese Cinema
1. Zhang Zhen addresses how the theme of the “female double” articulates a particular
urban experience and cinematic vision in a “dreamy documentary” or a “ghost story” of
contemporary Shanghai in SUZHOU RIVER. How do you understand the urban issues,
such as city crimes, prostitution, mental illness, alcoholism, migration workers, and love
story, in SUZHOU RIVER?
Zhang Zhen addresses the cinematic vision in a dreamy documentary form. We can see
that in the very beginning of the movie Suzhou River. The quality as a “dreamy documentary” of
Shanghai is displayed in the opening of the film before the title appears.
The movie mainly
focuses on the psychological reality such as the love story, city crimes, mental illness…etc. We
can see the love story part between Mudan and Mardar. However, when Mardar was forced to
kidnap Mudan, the love changed into hate, as well as the city crimes. On top of that, the death of
Mudan caused Mardar to have mental illness from missing his former lover plus drinking
excessively which leads to alcoholism.
Later in the film, Mardar transforms his love to this
beauty lady, Meimei, who would constantly disappear for days and return back to him. The way
I interpreted the relationship between Meimei and Mudan is that they look very much alike so
that Mardar was confused plus the ghost of Mudan is probably inside of Meimei’s body.
2. List three examples to address respectively the presence and its meanings of camera; 1.
Documentary recording, my camera doesn’t lie; 2. Subjective viewpoints; 3. Voyeuristic
gaze in SUZHOU RIVER.
The first meaning of the camera, documentary recording, and my camera doesn’t lie
simply means that the view and the producers can see and try to show everything in its true
nature. There is no way to mask or hide from it. An example would be the, at the beginning of
the film where an unknown guy was filming as she walks around laughing. The second meaning
of the camera is a subjective viewpoint. Hua, the videographer, never shows his face in the film.
However, the voice in the background and the narrator voice we kept hearing throughout the
whole film is a way for him to express himself. On top of that, the camera he uses is serving as
his subjective point of view. Third meaning of the camera is voyeuristic gaze. Instead of merely
commenting on the role of the audience in cinema, as a voyeur, Suzhou River robs the viewer of
its gaze and thrusts them into the picture before them.