Director: Gu Changwei
Cast: Zhang Jingchu, Feng Li, Lu Yulai
At the Berlin International Film Festival 2005, it was awarded the Jury Grand Prix - Silver Bear
This is the directorial debut by Gu Chang Wei.
He was the cinematographer for various movies like
- Red Sorghum
- Farewell My Concubine
- Devils on the Doorstep, etc
Back to the movie ...
The story revolves around the 3 children of a China family in the 70s. In order not to give too much away, I will simply say the movie is segmented into 3 sets of narratives, as follows:
-- The elder sister ... she would do anything in the hope of a better life ... would she succeed?
-- The eldest brother ... he appeared to be a dimwit after some illness ... was he really dumb?
-- The youngest brother ... he seemed repressed ... how would he be affected in life?
In essence, the movie is about life and destiny! It does not try to explain many events, but it will simply depict what happens next ... occasionally surprising the audience with unexpected sequences/events ... and that's it ... By doing so, the director keeps the movie concise and subtle. You either get it or you don't!
What I like ...
Deceptively simple, the director tries to convey a lot of messages:
-- It hints at the abnormality amidst normality, and the normality amidst abnormality
-- It depicts the beauty amidst ugliness, and the ugliness amidst beauty
-- It relates the helplessness in hope, but also the hope in helplessness, etc
In this sense, I think it is pretty ambitious ...
Technically speaking, it is also commendable. People who have lived through the 70s will definitely appreciate the details of the movie. They will likely reminisce about those "familiar" things/events ... Although the director does not seek to make the scenes "aesthetically" colorful or beautiful, one can sense that every camera shot and lighting is dealt with caution.
The movie seems to speak of stories that are so "plain" and "simple", but stories that we are so familiar with ... a life that seems plagued with helplessness, yet filled with dreams and hope ... LIFE GOES ON ... regardless ...
Most interesting question:
Why is the movie called PEACOCK?
It is very apt, and open to many different interpretation ...
Originally, an hour screen time is given to the story of each protagonist -- the elder sister, the eldest brother, and the youngest brother. However, given that this will make it a 3 hour movie, it is edited to a 144 min movie for Berlin and a 136 min for China (i.e., the version I watched).
Consequently, the audience will likely feel that the last set of story (on the youngest brother) seems kind of rush and less compelling. A lot of things are unanswered ... Maybe someday, they will provide the unedited version.