Ghosts (Gui Lao) (2006) (UK)

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Ghosts (Gui Lao) (2006) (UK)

Postby hengcs » Tue Aug 07, 2007 1:40 am

Director: Nick Broomfield
Cast: Ai Qin Lin, Zhe Wei

The official website

Based on the incident at Morecambe Bay on the 5th February 2004, the film relates the plight and life of an illegal immigrant, Ai Qin, in UK ...

My thoughts

-- I have always felt that such docudrama is difficult to comment on. Given the gravity and the reality of the story, one would often be emotionally drawn by virtue of its topic. So, I would rather leave it for you to watch.

-- For people who like the film, I could attribute it to its realism, acted by non professionals (and apparently some used to be illegal immigrants); their expressions come across as genuine.

The bulk of the film does not go to extreme to over dramatize or horrify (though the message is evident and clear) ... In fact, the bulk of the film depicts what life is like from day to day for the illegal immigrants, hopping from one odd job to another odd job ... there are times of difficulties, but there are times of entertainment ... there are times of despair, but there are times of hope ... By doing so, the film comes across as rather sincere ...

-- For people who do not like the film, it may because the director has a rather clear stand on how he feels about the subject ... some people might prefer if he had portrayed both sides of the stories ... also, to some extent, the bulk of the film can come across as rather mundane (i.e., what daily life is about) and hence, repetitive at times .. but those who like the film will consider this realistic and a way to build up the characterization/thoughts of the immigrants ...

-- As an ending note, there are many familiar Chinese songs which would help one reminisce about the good old past and people we used to know ...

Worth watching, by virtue of its topic. The starting and the ending is esp. gripping.

PS: The title "Ghosts" is most likely a translation of the Chinese title "Gui Lao". It is a slang used more often in the past when Chinese are less accustomed to seeing westerners/foreigners, and so refer to them as "ghosts" due to their pale complexion (cf. some countries refering to foreigners as "aliens").

Jiang Wen also uses the word "Ghosts" in his film "Gui Zi Lai Le" (Devils At The Doorstep) to refer to foreigners, but this time he refers to the Japanese.

There are two camps of thoughts.
(i) Some people feel that this term is perfectly NEUTRAL ... esp. used casually/intimately in the Cantonese language ... that is why they may even address their own wife (as Gui Po in Cantonese) or friends (as Gui Zi in Cantonese) etc ...
(ii) However, some people think it is slightly derogatory, used by people in the past to refer to "aliens" ... hence, people nowadays prefer to refrain from using this term when refering to foreigners ...

Also, just hazarding a wild guess (given that the film is by a British Director), he could have formulated the English title with an intended pun, maybe to refer to the way many people would regard "illegal immigrants", that is as ghosts ("transparent" and/or "non existent") ... sigh ... who also lives in harsh or "ghosts-like" conditions ... sigh

Re: Ghosts (Gui Lao) (2006) (UK)

Postby trevor826 » Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:23 am

Nice comments hengcs, a very good docu/drama that is as realistic as feasibly possible.

All the Chinese cast were originally immigrants, quite a few illegal so many of them had been through the very same experiences for real.

Lin Ai Qin who played Ai Qin in the film went through the tortuous journey from China to the U.K. in the same way as shown in the film, months spent in confined hiding spaces in trucks, it must have been painful for her in particular to go through the experience again although of course this time it was under filming conditions.

In terms of the housing and jobs, Nick Broomfield spent months investigating genuine properties and factories that had housed and employed illegal immigrants, the cast were required to live the experience and did live and sleep for the duration within the confines of the overcrowded and dilapidated housing.

During the Morecambe Bay section, you see the local cockle pickers attacking the illegal immigrants as they see them as a threat to their livelihood, this is what forced them into making the fatal mistake of going out late in the day to collect cockles. During the filming in Morecombe, the cast and crew were physically and verbally attacked by the local pickers even though they had explained that they were only there to make the film.

Before seeing the 'Ghosts' I had assumed that the title referred to the virtually hidden world of the illegal immigrants, but during the film the expression, 'Ghosts' was used by the Chinese for the white people who bled them of money, to me both meanings make sense.

Nick Broomfield's work has never held a great appeal for me but Ghosts is an outstanding film.

The R2 dvd was released by Tartan Video and is an excellent transfer of the film.

The making of doc included illustrates the levels of authenticity used including secret filming in factories where illegal immigrants are commonly employed because of their low cost and disposability.

Highly recommended.

Cheers Trev.

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