china in 1972 captured by Michelangelo Antonioni

i dedicated a weekend to think about story telling in preparation for a talk at the end of august in stockholm (in replacement of my esteemed colleague who was on his exploration trip). it turned out to be a good excuse for me to watch a few documentaries i had lined up for viewing.

shanghai residential alleyway

one of them is ‘chung-kuo’ by michelangelo antonioni. it’s 207 min long, narrated by the director himself. there is something about chinese workers that melt my heart though i cannot pinpoint why. the narration is very light, not too political nor academically boring. instead it is full of visuals of people’s everyday lives that he was allowed to peek into. my favorite parts so far were when the director documents and talks about people’s view on the filming crew and their behaviors facing the camera, and when he says “it is hard to accept that chinese invented eveything, including fettuccini”.

because of its length and the lack of dramatic structure, you may find it hard to finish. but if you got the patience and the curiosity, it’s a wonderful film to watch and find glimpses of how china changed over three decades – as you probably saw a lot of images from beijing olympics last month.

art gallery security guard's office

both photos were taken in shanghai, china, 2008.

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