An Elephant Sitting Still
- 3h 50min
Four people in a Chinese city live through a complicated day as their lives intersect.Four people in a Chinese city live through a complicated day as their lives intersect.Four people in a Chinese city live through a complicated day as their lives intersect.Four people in a Chinese city live through a complicated day as their lives intersect.Four people in a Chinese city live through a complicated day as their lives intersect.
In "An elephant sitting still" the emphasis is not so much on the economic performance of China but on the environmental disaster that is taking place. The film is set in a dreary landscape, fog is always present and grey is the dominating colour.
There is not only an environmental disaster going on but also a social one. Most of the people we meet in this film are selfish, indifferent, corrupt and harsh. Maybe they weren't born that way, but in the society portrayed by this movie, in order to survive you can't afford te be sensitive. After finishing this movie the (debuting) director committed suicide. The direct cause was a conflict with the producer over the length of the film, but after seeing the film it is difficult to seperate his suicide from the totally dark image of Chinese society in the film.
"An elephant sitting still" is an ensemble film. We follow the lives of four main characters during one day. Contrary to for example "Magnolia" (1999, Paul Thomas Anderson) there is no redemption at a deathbed at the end of the film here. One main character compares his life with a garbage bin. The older he gets, the more garbage he collects.
In "Magnolia" there is a mythical element at the end in the form of a shower of frogs. "An elephant sitting still" has its own mythical element. At the eind of the film we hear the trumpeting of the elephant (without seeing the animal).
Up to that moment there was only talk about a circus elephant that went on strike and did nothing else than sitting in his cage. It is up to each viewer to interpret the symbolic meaning of this elephant, but in China an elephant is seen as a wise animal and the lethargy to wich he had fallen can be seen as a protest agianst the harshness of the society portrayed in the film.
For me there was clear link between the elephant in "An elephant sitting still" and the whale in "Werckmeister Harmoniak" (2000, Bela Tarr). A link that beomes even more obvious when I red (after seeing the film) that Bela Tarr was one of the guest teachers of directer Bo Hu.
- Jun 10, 2019