Blind Mountain
Blind Mountain
Directed by Li Yang
Produced by Li Yang
Executive Producers:
Li Shan
Alexandra Sun
Written by Li Yang
Starring Huang Lu
Cinematography Lin Jong
Editing by Li Yang
Mary Stephen
Distributed by Worldwide & Japan:
StudioCanal
Asia:
Tang Splendour Films
United States:
Kino International
Release date(s) Cannes:
May 20, 2007
United States:
March 12, 2008
Running time 95 minutes
Country China
Language Shaanxi Chinese Dialect Sichuan Dialect
Budget €600,000 ($809,000)[1]

Blind Mountain (Chinese: 盲山; pinyin: Máng shān) is a 2007 Chinese film directed by Li Yang and is Li's first feature film since his 2003 debut Blind Shaft. It is also known as Road Home.[2]

Like Li's previous film, Blind Shaft, which dealt with the notoriously dangerous mining industry, Blind Mountain turns a sharply critical eye towards another one of China's continuing social problems, this time selling women for marriage in modern day china.

Contents

Plot

Blind Mountain follows a young woman, Bai Xuemei, in the early 1990s who recently graduated from college and attempts to find work to help pay for her brother's education. In the process, she is drugged, kidnapped and sold as a bride to a villager in the Qinling Mountains of China's Shaanxi province. Trapped in the fiercely traditional town, the young woman finds that her avenues of escape are all blocked. As she searches for allies, including a young boy, a school teacher and a mailman, she suffers from being raped by her "husband" and continued beatings at the hands of the villagers, her husband, and her husbands' parents.

Cast

  • Huang Lu - Bai Xuemei, the heroine, a young college student
  • Yang You'an - Huang Degui, a villager who purchases Bai Xuemei
  • Zhang Yuling - Ding Xiuying, Huang Degui's mother
  • He Yunie - Huang Decheng, a local teacher and Huang Degui's cousin
  • Jia Yinggao - Huang Changyi, Huang Degui's father
  • Zhang Youping- Li Qingshan, a local boy who befriends Bai Xuemei

Production history

The film was primarily funded by private, overseas Chinese donors.[1] The cast was primarily non-professional actors with the notable exception of the lead, Huang Lu, who was cast from the Beijing Film Academy before she had even graduated.[3]

Prior to its release, Blind Mountain suffered from nearly 20 state-imposed cuts.[1][4] This was done in order for the film to be allowed into the Un certain regard competition at Cannes by Chinese officials, as several of the cuts were of scenes that were critical of certain aspects of Chinese society. The Chinese Film Bureau policy also led to Li filming several alternate versions of the film's ending including a more upbeat one specifically for a possible video or dvd release in China.[1]

Reception

Along with Diao Yi'nan's Night Train, Blind Mountain was one of only two Chinese films in competition in the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, both for the Prix un certain regard.[5] A third Chinese film, Fengming, a Chinese Memoir by Wang Bing was a documentary and was a "Special Screening" not in competition. Blind Mountain ultimately failed to win anything at Cannes, with the Prix un certain regard going instead to Cristian Nemescu's California Dreamin'.

While the audience at Cannes gave a standing ovation to the film when it was screened,[6][7] the critics have thus far been mixed in their reaction towards the film. Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter, for example, is generous in his praise of the film's social message and visual beauty, claiming that the Li "draws wonderful performances from a cast that includes local amateurs and professionals, including the utterly credible Huang Lu."[6] In contrast, Derek Elley of Variety was far more subdued in his reaction, and in particular criticizes the film's thin story and poorly drawn characters, such that "there's little emotional underpinning to the rote story."[3] What both critics agreed was above par, however, was the photography of the Taiwanese cinematographer Lin Jong.[3][6] Other critics expressed sentiments similar to Elley, but nevertheless found the performances effective, particularly by the lead actress.[6][7] Reception was more positive with the Chinese press. Writing in Hong Kong cultural magazine, Muse, Perry Lam observed, 'What makes this film so heartbreaking and so hard to watch sometimes is its determination to let us experience without varnish the depths of the heroine's despair and meet all the wretched characters who have a role to play in her tragedy.'[8]

On April 19, 2008, Blind Mountain won the Film Award of the Council of Europe (FACE), which is presented at the Istanbul International Film Festival by the Council of Europe to a film that raises public awareness and interest in human rights issues and promotes a better understanding of their significance.[9]

Awards and nominations

Alternate version

The movie was filmed with several endings to satisfy the Chinese film censorship board. The rather short and abrupt ending that appears in the international dvd has the main character of Bai Xuemei stabbing the "husband" who forcefully married and raped her, during a personal brawl with Xuemei's father after the police leaves the village. The ending that appears on the Chinese dvd is more of a "happy" yet ironic ending when the police shows up at Bai Xuemei's house days later, drugs and fends off the husband and rescues her. At the same time, other girls who were sold into marriage in the village are also rescued but her best friend (who was also sold into marriage) suddenly decides to stay behind for her child and gets out of the police car. No one wins in this ending because Bai Xuemei's child is left without a mother and the family of her "husband" is left with no daughter-in-law. Furthermore, the ending concludes with text about the ongoing problem of human trafficking in modern day China. More than 30 cuts were required by Chinese censors for it be approved for exhibition.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Landreth, Jonathan (2007-05-20). "Yang cuts 'Mountain' for Chinese Approval". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. http://web.archive.org/web/20070930211801/http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/awards_festivals/cannes/news/e3i1f890f625ffdd190718f3a516ff27a73. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  2. ^ Not to be confused with Zhang Yimou's 1999 film, The Road Home.
  3. ^ a b c Elley, Derek (2007-05-20). "Blind Mountain". Variety. http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=cannes2007&jump=review&reviewid=VE1117933698. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  4. ^ Corliss, Richard & Corliss, Mary (2007-05-25). "Mean Men and Mad Women". Time. http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1625685,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  5. ^ James, Alison (2007-04-20). "Cannes is cool on Asian movies". Variety. http://www.varietyasiaonline.com/content/view/1218/53/. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  6. ^ a b c d Bennett, Ray (2007-05-21). "Blind Mountain". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. http://web.archive.org/web/20070930230256/http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/awards_festivals/fest_reviews/article_display.jsp?&rid=9234. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  7. ^ a b Andrew, Geoff (2007-05-22). "Coen Brothers Return from Cannes". Time Out London. http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=cannes2007&jump=review&reviewid=VE1117933698. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  8. ^ Lam, Perry (11 2007). "Pen, gauntlet, man and woman". Muse Magazine (10): 102. 
  9. ^ Press Release (2008-04-19). "Li Yang and “Mang Shan” win the FACE prize at the Istanbul Film Festival". Council of Europe. https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=PR282(2008)&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&Site=DC&BackColorInternet=F5CA75&BackColorIntranet=F5CA75&BackColorLogged=A9BACE. Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
  10. ^ Tizard, Will (2007-12-10). "Bratislava festival lauds 'Mountain'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117977435.html. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 

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