(aka 'Zhantai')

directed by Zhang Ke Jia

 Hong Kong / China / Japan / France  2000

 

 One of the richest films of the past decade, Jia Zhangke's Platform finally gets a theatrical run. Jia's three-hour epic spans the 1980s, filtering the period through the mutation of the propaganda-performing Fenyang Peasant Culture Group into the equally cheesy All Star Rock and Breakdance Electronic Band. Jia, whose brilliant follow-up, Unknown Pleasures, opens later in the month, has a strong visual style (based on long fixed-camera ensemble takes) and a powerful set of concerns (the spiritual confusion of contemporary China, caught between the outmoded materialism of the Maoist era and its market-driven successor). Elliptical yet concrete, Platform is a laconic tale of lackadaisical love and even more haphazard entertainment, as played out in a series of unheated factory halls and outdoor courtyards.

The environment is at once prison-like and vast; with its objective viewpoint and lovingly bleak locations, Platform looks like a documentary, but it's Pop Art as history. Perhaps influenced by Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Puppetmaster, Jia finds subtle ways to transform the world into a stage. The play of the proscenium against the filmmaker's taste for unmediated reality is fascinating. The penultimate image, held long enough for the full weight of quotidian despair to infect the audience, epitomizes the odyssey from kindergarten collectivity to failed privatization.

Excerpt of J. Hoberman's review at The Village Voice located HERE
 

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Theatrical Release: September 4th, 2000 - Venice Film Festival

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DVD Review: New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution New Yorker Video Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:28:20 
Video 1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.52 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 Mandarin / Shanxi  (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: New Yorker Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Interview with director Zhang Ke Jia (13:31)
• Behind the Scenes footage (21:29)
• Foreign trailer
• Photo gallery

DVD Release Date: August 16th, 2005

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Chapters: 27

 

 

Comments:

I've heard some poor things about the Region 2- PAL Artificial Eye version of this film (HERE) and this New Yorker edition also has its problems. There is some 'combing' in horizontal pans indicating that the image was not transferred progressively although it is anamorphic at around the 1.78:1 ratio. Colors aren't too bad, a little dull maybe, and the image is hazy in spots. As this seems akin to the AE edition it is quite possible that a decent negative is not accessible. On the positive; subtitles are very good and the extras are a magnificent addition with a 15 minute interview with Zhang Ke Jia (with optional subtitles) and another 20 minutes of behind the scenes footage. A trailer and photo gallery round out the supplements but there are also some extensive liner notes (good job NY'er!) with excerpts from the excellent Shelly Kraicer review published in CineAction magazine.

I am very happy with the extras and eventually we may compare this release to the PAL one, but it sounds as though they are similar. The extras make this a viable purchase and from that standpoint we recommend.

Gary W. Tooze

 





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Distribution New Yorker Video Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC

 




 

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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,

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