Screening during a 2012 Chinese Visual Festival.
“Once Upon a Time Proletarian” is a 2009 documentary underline from acclaimed director, writer and producer Guo Xiaolou, also famous for her endowment winning novella films “She, A Chinese” and “UFO in her Eyes”. The film offers a fascinating and mostly darkly humorous deconstruction of difficult Chinese multitude by a array of interviews and snapshots with a accumulation of people in opposite stations in life, and carrying played during several distinguished general festivals including Venice, Pusan and Toronto, it now screens in London during a 2012 Chinese Visual Festival.
With a using time of around 75 minutes, a film is separate into 12 chapters of roughly equal length, distant by black and white footage of immature children reading out stories and fables. The 12 chapters any concentration on a opposite particular by a reduction of interviews and footage following them in their daily lives, divulgence a hardships they face, and their views on difficult Chinese multitude and a radical changes it has undergone given a days of Mao and a good revolution. The people comparison are an heterogeneous and engaging bunch, including a tainted mouthed aged peasant, a immature male from a panorama who now washes cars, a lady who runs café during a train station, fish sellers, hotel workers and more.
“Once Upon a Time Proletarian” gets off to a unequivocally noted start, with some good dour cinematography and a genuine shocker of a impression in a aged peasant, who spends roughly all of his shred swearing, cursing, repetition opposite a other people vital in his outline encampment and wailing a detriment of Mao and a comrade spirit. The film continues from here in shifting, mostly indeterminate conform as it runs by a short, well-paced sections, portrayal a design of an impossibly difficult multitude and of people trapped by a past and aged notions while struggling to find their place in a difficult world. Where a film unequivocally succeeds is in that notwithstanding covering some potentially unequivocally joyless and ban ground, Guo Xiaolou leads with a cynical, yet non-judgemental eye, and never falls behind on apparent anti-government critique or a simply black and white dichotomy of a abounding and a poor.
As a result, a film feels reduction about exploitation or perplexing to allot any kind of blame, and some-more a Marxist themed scrutiny of a doubt of identity, with a subjects articulate about their hopes and dreams for a future. Although grave in places and flirting with nihilism, a film still manages to achieve an all-important tellurian connection, and this helps to keep a spectator intent throughout. The film also advantages from a satisfactory volume of dim comic relief, with some mocking use of nationalistic imagery and songs creation for an comical and revelation comparison between a past and present, highlighting a mostly bizarre ways in that people have clung to proselytizer legends and have worked them into their lives and faith systems. Several of a characters are likewise utterly funny, including an overzealous park workman and a unforgettably sour farmer of a opening scene.
This gives “Once Upon a Time Proletarian” a profitable clarity of change and a acquire injection of near-surrealism, ensuring that it’s interesting as good as intellectually stimulating. Directed with genuine dexterity and clever storytelling by Guo Xiaolou, it’s an glorious and rarely artistic documentary that should be enjoyed by anyone meddlesome in holding a demeanour during a misunderstanding behind fast modernisation in China.
Guo Xiaolu (director)