The implicit directorial comment in the clip takes into account the economic, historical and cultural aspects of Chinese society. For example, the stranded passengers in the mountain gorge are mostly young people – a statistically true picture of Chinese population of the time – dominated demographically by the youth. There are men and women in equal number. Their attire is instructive of the social changes. For example, For instance, the costumes worn by members in the group are not traditional Chinese wear. Almost all of the passengers are wearing sweaters and jackets that are indiscernible from what people wear in the West. It depicts a drastic change in culture that young Chinese are now wearing English clothes – they even identify and copy the styles and attitudes that go with the costumes (China Perspectives, 2005).
Though appreciative of the modernization of China, director Jia Zhang does not romanticize the trend. This is evident in a couple of key moments in the film clip. The first is the fact that the truck breaks down. It says the methods of mechanization introduced do not always work. Rather than merely disappointing, they could actually cause distress, as the stranded passengers bear witness to. Second, in the last shot of the clip, the young people’s attempt to halt the train is unsuccessful. This is a reality check for them that economic progress alone does not guarantee a life of comfort and safety. The young people are on their own in the wilderness of the mountains and their safety and prospects of survival are not guaranteed.
In conclusion, one can read in the clip a statement of warning more broadly applicable to China’s ascent in economic terms – that economic progress and modernization are not ‘end all and be all’ for the country. The passengers’ failed attempt to gain attention by screaming and waving hands is symbolic of dangers facing modern China. Yet, there is a message of hope to be read in the shot as well. We could see in the scene the human spirit and passion in the young people. While their hopes and spirits were temporarily sapped, they remain in their positions clinging to hope that they might be rescued.
Strictly film school, Zhantai, 2000 [Platform], (2004). 6 May, 2013. Web. <http://www.filmref.com/directors/dirpages/jia.html>
College of Arts and Sciences. Platform, (2013). 6 May, 2013. Web. <http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/denton2/courses/c505/temp/platform.html >
China Perspectives. The World of Jia Zhangki, (2005). 6 May, 2013. Web. <http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/2843>