Movie Review

A Touch of Sin – Movie Review


A Touch of Sin – Review by Frank L.

Director: Zhangke Jia
Writer: Zhangke Jia (screenplay)
Stars: Wu Jiang, Lanshan Luo, Li Meng

Jia Zhangke has created a film which has some beautiful images, which often occur immediately before an act of scarifying physical violence. The violence has a reason. The four stories which are told reflect events which happened. Each story shows a society which has scant respect for the rights of an individual. Each individual is powerless. The society is not concerned about the fate of the individual. The individual exists to obey and be silent. Although it was made in China the film apparently has not received official authorisation to be shown there. This is hardly surprising as the film appears to be a polemic against the society which has been created over the last 30 years or so. For that reason, the film, even if it is blood curdling at times, merits attention.

The four stories do not connect and it is likely the viewer will be thrown when the story line changes. However the four principal characters are prominently displayed so it is not too difficult to grasp that the story line has changed. As a Westerner, the intensity of some of the physical attacks and the corresponding almost unanimous acceptance by the onlookers of the violence, or maybe the lack of any obvious dissent, is deeply unsettling. At the time of viewing I was conscious I was observing a society whose values were different from that of mine even if the contemporary paraphernalia of jet planes, motor cars and modern communications were all too familiar. However, as I reflect subsequently, maybe our visual media choose not to show us or reveal to us the underlying causes of individual acts of violence which dominate our news broadcasts from the swathes of underprivileged areas in the large conurbations of Western Europe.

Given the ever increasing importance of China, we are given one observer’s view of how China operates. The fact that the film is not available in China gives grounds to believe that what it depicts is close to reality. Notwithstanding the violence, it is worth pondering about this vision of China, why the film was made and why it is not available in China. It is worth seeing for these reasons.

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