In China, homosexuality isn't illegal, but homosexuals are routinely persecuted by police and arrested for "hooliganism". The film focuses on a young gay writer A-Lan who, being attracted ...
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Beijing, 1988. On the cusp of middle-age, Chen Handong has known little but success all his life. The eldest son of a senior government bureaucrat, he heads a fast-growing trading company ... See full summary »
In China, homosexuality isn't illegal, but homosexuals are routinely persecuted by police and arrested for "hooliganism". The film focuses on a young gay writer A-Lan who, being attracted to a young policeman, manages to have himself interrogated for a whole night. His life-story which he tells during the interrogation reflects the general repression of the Chinese society. The policeman's attitude shifts from the initial revulsion to fascination and, finally, to attraction. Written by
Piotr Zembrowski <email@example.com> (after David Overbey)
In 1997 the Chinese government put director 'Zhang, Yuan' under house arrest and confiscated his passport. His friends smuggled this movie out of the country so it could be shown at the 1997 Cannes film festival. See more »
the metaphor of subordination in East Palace West Palace
East Palace West Palace is an excellent film for its subtle attention to the relation of power and subordination in modern China. Set in present day Bejing, it boldly shirks the trend of the "fifth-generation" Chinese directors to ignore contemporary issues. Among the more daring of those films, To Live and The Blue Kite presented us with the dehumanization on which China's current population was founded; EPWP explores the inhumanity it faces now.
The main characters evince the respective macrocosms of the subordinated Chinese civilian populace and its privileged oppressors. A Lan is a gay man, rounded up in a park near the Forbidden City by Xiao Shi, a police officer. The plot involves A Lan's night-long interrogation, involving flashbacks of his hard life. The film is not sympathetic to homosexuality, despite its casual screenings at gay festivals, exuberant to find identification in a foreign culture. Rather, it uses homosexuality as a portrayal of weakness and subordination, to a powerful end. The film's telling message resides in a philosophy I've explored in the writings of Gandhi and James Joyce--that a repressed society is always in someway responsible for its own domination. Xiao Shi finds A Lan's homosexuality reprehensible, but the detached, scrawny, weak A Lan eventually falls in "love" with him. In China, everyone is in some way a catamite of state power. As A Lan has been arrested for the night, so the Chinese have been ensnared in a dark age. As dawn approaches, the film builds to a confusing, frightful, bitter, and ultimately moving catharsis. It is not afraid to look forward, into the rising sun.
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