Jun 02, 2005|
HK Magazine: How did you come up with the idea of setting the film in the Window Of The World theme park?
Jia Zhangke: After Beijing was selected to hold the Olympics in 2008, a lot of people rushed from the suburbs to the capital to earn money in the fast-growing economy. I also moved to Beijing in 1993 from Shanxi and I thought this would be a personal view of my country. [Lead actress] Zhao Tao mentioned she had worked in Shenzhen's Window Of The World for a year and recalled how fascinating and universal it was during the day. But at night it became very restricted, with staff alone and in despair. I thought this would be an interesting way to show young workers in China against a backdrop of modernization. And there are other subjects: consumerism, capitalism and globalization.
HK: What about the glamour of the dance performance in the park?
JZ: I always include stage performances at the beginning of my films. In "Platform," it's revolutionary acrobats or rock 'n' roll. "Unknown Pleasure" opens with a marketing promotion for Mongolian liquor. "The World" is, to me, a staging of a Milan fashion show. What's really unfolding is the reality of the modern consumerist China.
HK: The electronica in "The World" is quite different from the pop soundtracks of your earlier films. Tell us about the music in your movies.
JZ: Electronic music represents a new era of technology, which fits in with other modern means of communication that appear in "The World." But listening or singing to pop music is a major means of expression for Chinese people. The karaoke scene - where businessmen are struggling with an outdated socialist tune and change the lyrics to "live for 500 years to make more money" - is the manifestation of a changing society: the shift from communism to capitalism.
HK: This is the first of your films to be approved by the Chinese Government, is that because it's less radical than your three earlier movies?
JZ: On the contrary, I think "The World" is even blunter. When filming "The World," the economy was more open and [the Government] less critical in selecting cultural products. It's a contemporary film investigating the problems of our fast-growing economy, and it's the most daring film of my career in terms of subject matter.
HK: What's next?
JZ: I'm working on my next feature, "Tattoo Era," based on a novel by Su Dong. It's a love story about a group of adolescent desperadoes in Suzhou during the Cultural Revolution in 1975. Su Dong was so touched by the acting of Zhao Tao he requested she take the lead role in this adaptation. But before that, I'll shoot a documentary, "Still Life in August."