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The World (2004) More at IMDbPro »Shijie (original title)


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7.1/10   2,337 votes »
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Release Date:
18 March 2005 (Canada) See more »
An exploration on the impact of urbanization and globalization on a traditional culture. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
6 wins & 9 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A Sad Picture of How Modernization is The Same the Whole World Over See more (29 total) »


  (in credits order)

Tao Zhao ... Tao
Taishen Cheng ... Taisheng
Jue Jing ... Wei
Zhong-wei Jiang ... Niu
Yiqun Huang ... Qun
Hongwei Wang ... Sanlai
Jing Dong Liang ... Tao's ex-boyfriend
Shuai Ji ... Erxiao
Wan Xiang ... Youyou
Alla Shcherbakova ... Anna
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Sanming Han ... Sanming
Juan Iu ... Yanqing
Xiaodong Liu ... Karaoke singer
Xiaoshuai Wang

Directed by
Zhangke Jia 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Zhangke Jia 

Produced by
Keung Chow .... producer
Shôzô Ichiyama .... producer (as Shozo Ichiyama)
Masayuki Mori .... executive producer
Hengameh Panahi .... producer
Zhong-lun Ren .... producer
Tianyan Wang .... supervising producer
Takio Yoshida .... producer
Nelson Lik-wai Yu .... associate producer (as Yu Lik Wai)
Original Music by
Giong Lim 
Cinematography by
Nelson Lik-wai Yu 
Film Editing by
Jinlei Kong  (as Jing Lei Kong)
Production Design by
Li-zhong Wu 
Makeup Department
Yang Yuan Zhen .... hair stylist
Production Management
Elise Bastoul .... post-production supervisor
Sound Department
Laurent Bailly .... sound mixer
Si Guo Li .... boom operator
Yang Zhang .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Meng Da Yu .... grip
Ricky Wong .... still photographer
Editorial Department
Aure Gelis .... post-production assistant
Christophe Legendre .... grader
Other crew
Christian Dines .... restoration (uncredited)
Mathilde Incerti .... press attache
Pan Jian Lin .... location manager

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Shijie" - China (original title)
"World" - USA (festival title)
See more »
Italy:140 min | USA:143 min | Argentina:143 min (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente) | 105 min (mainland china)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Visa d'exploitation en France : # 111851.See more »
Taisheng:Are we dead?
Tao:No, we have only just begun.
See more »
Movie Connections:
References Roman Holiday (1953)See more »


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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful.
A Sad Picture of How Modernization is The Same the Whole World Over, 15 July 2005
Author: noralee from Queens, NY

"The World (Shijie)" is one of the saddest films I've ever seen and is a moving visualization of the tragedy of rising expectations.

While it is set very particularly in China, it achingly proves the universality of the twin globalization pulls of modernization and immigration over the past three hundred years around the world, recalling films from "Hester Street" to "The Emigrants (Utvandrarna)," and films about cities in throes of developmental change, like "Atlantic City."

These are universally recognizable young people - they rebel against and yet feel tied to their families and regretfully break ties with old friends; they fight with their siblings but bail them out; they get lonely, a bit homesick, and bored; they are jealous and ambitious; and they constantly compromise, particularly the women bargaining with the oldest currency. With what is a bit heavy-handed symbolism, the film is specifically set in what I presume is a real amusement park called "The World" on the outskirts of Beijing that replicates landmarks in scaled miniature and focuses on the employees and their extended, inter-connected network of friends and family.

At first, they look to us as swaggering city sophisticates, as they dress-up in international costumes for a park revue, surrounded by emblems of international commercial culture, like fake Louis Vuitton bags and movie posters, such as of "Titanic," They jealously and zealously call each other constantly by the most modern cell phone and text messengers, particularly from the encircling monorail that at first seems like a symbol of modern technology, but is really cobbled together from airplane parts--though one woman wistfully notes that she doesn't know anyone who has been on a plane- a frequent response to a call is "I'm on the train." -- but by the end the canned voice of progress is emblematic of the dead end circularity of their lives as they can't get passports to leave, let alone to see the real landmarks.

Travel is a constant theme visually and of conversation - when a country bumpkin shows up, the surprised greeting is "How did you get here?" such that "I bought a ticket." is not self-evident. -- to the security guards riding camels around the fake pyramids and horses around the fake castles, to the six hour bus ride it takes to another city to pay off a relative's gambling debts, and emphasized through fanciful animated interstices. The ironic geographical headings of the chapters emphasize a character's quixotic goal -- "", "Ulan Bator Evening," "Belleville", "Tokyo Story." Striving as they all are, for these folks even Ulan Bator, the depressed capital of Mongolia, looks like a step up.

There are moving scenes when immigrants with different languages try to communicate to share the commonalities in their lives -- a Russian immigrant is terrified when her passport is taken away, while the Chinese woman is envious that she even has one.

It is a bit confusing keeping up with the various characters, in and out of their work costumes, especially when the two main characters seemed to change so much without explanation, but they are enormously sympathetic so it is devastating as we see their hopes and dreams, however unrealistic or selfish, defeated. And those who succeed do so on very compromised terms.

They are also not very articulate, which writer/director Zhang Ke Jia compensates for by spending a lot of time slowly setting up individual scenes and watching people interact, as we see how different they are in different contexts with different people, as body language becomes more important than words, whether spoken or in text messages.

While the cinematography was beautiful, the print I saw in New York was a bit scratchy and the English subtitles had several misspellings. I'm sure subtitle-dependent viewers lose a lot of the significance of different accents and regional differences among the employees from all over China.

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