(aka "Chűgoku no ch˘jin" )

directed by Miike Takashi
Japan 1998

While it would make sense to say about most directors, it really makes little sense to say the following about Miike, but “The Bird People of China” is the most unusual film by Miike to date. There, I’ve said it and it makes no sense.

And yet it does.

When a saleryman is send from Tokyo to the Yun Nan province in China (possible the most remote and desolated place of China), to make sure there is jade in a jade mine, being accompanied by a yakuza officer, as the mining company borrowed money from the yakuza, they discover, apart from the mine, a world, where people believe in being able to fly.

Following the tradition of film about salerymen alienated by their own culture, finding their Asian roots in another country, “The Bird People of China”, based upon the novel by Shiina Makoto, and written by Nakumura, who has written some of the best Miike films, is a story about finding paradise lost and about finding ones inner self.

Miike begins the film in exaggerated tempo, only to slow it down gradually as the journey goes on and to end at a snail crawling pace for the films second half, talking place in the remote mountain village. To further stress time, Miike makes the journey be regressive in terms of technology, starting out with passenger jets, then car, then scooter and finally feet. Likewise Miike ends the film with a voice over taking place 30 years in the future, suggesting, the entire narrative to be a flashback.

Another important element is the cinematography. Yamamoto Hideo, who also shot ”Hana-bi” and has become the Miikes DoP, creates a colour scheme, where the second part of the film is shot thru a yellow filter, making the green mountain look jade-ish. This is easy one of the most beautiful films by Miike to look at.

Surprisingly many consider this Miike’s best film. While I think “Young Thugs: Nostalgia” is better, I can easily understand why, as this is a film that will spellbind its viewers and make them feel the magic of the bird people.

Henrik Sylow

Poster

Theatrical Release: June 10, 1998

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: ArtsMagic - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Distribution

ArtsMagic

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:58:18
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: ArtsMagic

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Tom Mes
• Interview with Miike Takashi (17:19)
• Trailer (1:23)
• Promotional material
• Biographies
• Filmographies
• Anne Laurie lyrics

DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004
Transparent Keepcase

Chapters 13
 

Comments The sad thing about the image of this DVD is, that it is standard for ArtsMagic. A tape transfer, lacking detail and sharpness. Apart from that, the image is quiet good. Solid colors and few compression artifacts. It just would have been nice with a better source.

What the image lacks, the additional material makes up for. Perhaps I’m overcompensating, but the extras is great. Kicking it all off with a commentary by Miike expert Tom Mes, who, while taking his time, leads us thru the film in his own unique way. Mes is still a young lad. Give him 20 years and he may become the Richie of the next generation. Following that another great little interview with Miike concerning the production.
 

 - Henrik Sylow

 


Recommended Reading for Japanese Film Fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Japan Journals : 1947-2004,

by  Donald Richie

The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film
by Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp
The Films of Akira Kurosawa by Donald Ritchie

Tokyo Story

by Yasujiro Ozu, Kogo Noda, Donald Richie, Eric Klestadt

Ozu by Donald Ritchie

A Hundred Years of Japanese Film by Donald Richie

Check out more in "The Library"

 



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Distribution

ArtsMagic

Region 0 - NTSC



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