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A longer view
24 September 2000
We Americans are accustomed to our fast moving world and our equally fast paced movies but the older countries of the world have something very valuable to offer in cinema, if we can take some time, literally, to consider it. This movie brings that mature stateliness of the old world before our eyes in almost an indelible way.

Moving in a very slow and artfully calculated rhythm, one scene slides into another, each setting a perfect little painting that can almost distract the attention away from the action and the dialog. The story develops gradually, starting out as a situation that is completely unfamiliar to the viewer and progressing stepwise through increasingly familiar emotional territory until even the 21st century American knows exactly where things stand.

The story is absorbing and the comment on Chinese society is important in today's world, but the main interest for me is the mood of meditative quietude and the rather dreamlike atmosphere that is generated continually, until it saturates right through.
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