(aka "Qing hong" )

 

directed by Xiaoshuai Wang
China 2005

 

Wang Xiaoshuai's latest film is one that can easily be admired, but the director intentionally keeps the audience at arm's length, preventing any deep emotional involvement with the characters.

Many Chinese families obeyed the urging of the government to leave Shanghai and take up factory jobs far inland during the 1960s. With the passage of years, Lao Wu grows increasingly unhappy in the bleak rural surroundings and longs for a return home. His daughter Qinghong is equally unhappy with his strict parentage and tries to respond to the romantic entreaties of a local boy, only to be hemmed in by her father.

Winner of a Jury Prize at Cannes earlier this year, SHANGHAI DREAMS includes plenty of period cultural details. The grey landscapes are oppressively unappealing, hammering home the point that Lao Wu's dream of returning to his seaside hometown is well-motivated. Wang's insistence on the camera maintaining a physical distance from the actors results in several scenes that are startling for their subtlety, yet works against the possibility of truly connecting with the material. The result is a beautifully drawn, if drab, piece of art that one admires from a distance.

Excerpt from Twitch

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Theatrical Release: 3 June 2005

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Luiz R. for the Review!

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Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:56:24
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.35 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

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

Bitrate

Audio Mandarin Dolby 2.0 (192 Kbps), Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Dual-Layered DVD
• Making Of
• Wang Xiaoshuai Filmography
• Trailer

DVD Release Date: 22 Jan 2007
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 12

  

Comments:

Artificial Eye have done a good job for this one and although the image is not perfect it is way above the average and the edition even comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

IMAGE:
Progressive, sharp, clear, and keeping a natural white balance I found the image "good enough" for a quality presentation. Noise is constant but it is not degrading and the level is expected in movie completely filmed in overcast days. "Edge halos" are very rarely present and are hard to detect anyway and the rest can be considered at least adequately balanced with detached but natural looking colors and a strong contrast that imbues the "main focuses" without darkening shadows excessively by concealing important details.

This can be just a false impression but it seems there is a light greenish cast over the image, this wouldn't be all uncommon and I don't find it troublesome, but I think it deserves to be mentioned.
 

SOUND:
At first sight this looks like a "center speaker" kinda movie, but it is actually quite busy and separated. So much so that it clearly takes advantage of the Dolby Digital 5.1. These details I am referring to are basically the natural surroundings, that seems a bit dull but it is so present that immersion and the overall mood is significantly improved by it. The DD 5.1 is very clear, reproduces all dialogues evenly and while details are enhanced the mix is free from unwanted noise.

SUBTITLES:
Timing and clarity is very good, but it looks a bit too high on the monitor, approaching the middle of the screen.

EXTRAS:
This is light on supplements, but the Making Of... is enjoyable and informative even though short. It goes about the movie production itself and a bit about the historical context as well. It is in a letterboxed formatted.

There are also a Theatrical Trailer (anamorphic) and a section dedicated to the director's biography. The subtitle font, size and height used in the trailer are much better in my opinion, but I believe the size chosen for the presentation is more "universal" and easier on the eyes.

BOTTOM LINE:
Although the movie is far from being emotionally exploitative, I found it very moving while historically relevant. This is a honest and precisely acted film with a subtle plot that surprisingly unfolds peculiar situations that range from a fun and classy dance scene to sinister and dramatic events. Believe me, this is not a plot that tries too much and gets lost in the middle but instead a concise biographical storytelling that is capable of successfully sharing contrasted moments of life in a short 115 minutes period while keeping the pace.

I find I difficult to compare this film with previous Wang Xiaoshuai' works, I like all of them, but this one has a specific and different style and I ended up finding it more captivating. If you enjoy this one too, films like Tian Zhuangzhuang's "The Blue Kite",
Zhang Ke Jia's "Still Life" and "Platform" should also appeal.

This DVD is concise but it delivers the goods pretty well, both the movie and this edition are well worthy.

 - Luiz R.

 



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Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL




 

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