Documentary Review: Though I’m Gone (2006) by Hu Jie

Hu Jie’s “Although I’m gone” (2006) opening sequence is as easy in its metaphors because it will get. First, we see the internal workings of the clock – the time is being slowly measured, however, extra importantly, can be passing and operating away. The following scene? A digicam, directed straight on the viewer, as if checking whether or not we’re paying shut consideration to what’s about to occur. These two motifs recur within the movie many instances signifying “Although I’m gone’s” mission of reclaiming the historical past of Cultural Revolution in China. Hu Jie is within the forbidden occasions that occurred in China: many individuals would in all probability prefer to overlook them, however they’re additionally not allowed to speak about them. The stress between the 2 wants, to desert the historic trauma but additionally to course of it, is central to the movie.

“Although I’m Gone” follows the story of Wang Jingyao and his deceased spouse Bian Zhongyun. She was the primary sufferer of the Crimson August of 1966 (and due to this fact, maybe, the primary sufferer of The Cultural Revolution as such), throughout which a sequence of massacres swept via Beijing. Though the movie paints a wider image of the occasion, it finally focuses on the non-public side of it, slightly than the macro-scale. Bian Zhongyun was once a trainer at the Experimental Excessive Faculty Hooked up to Beijing Regular College, and in addition a agency believer of the Communist Occasion. The movie makes an attempt to reconstruct her final days and the methods wherein the Crimson Guards (and their chief Track Bingbin particularly) used political tensions to create havoc and mass hysteria which later unfold nationwide. Like in lots of circumstances of totalitarian regimes, the ideology many people trusted wholeheartedly finally got here to betray them, Bian Zhongyun being a main instance of this. 

Hu Jie makes use of Wang Jingyao’s house recordings and household {photograph} assortment to reconstruct the occasions and retell the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. That is combined with present-tense interviews with Wang, relations and different individuals who witnessed and skilled the Cultural Revolution firsthand. These are recorded with a small digital digicam. The top product is an eerie amalgamation, its rawness having an virtually newbie or guerrilla really feel. The interviews shot inside Wang’s condominium, the principle character recorded in uncomfortable close-ups, the large glasses virtually falling from the protagonist’s face – all these little particulars create a way of intimacy and camaraderie between the viewer and Wang. “Although I’m gone’s” visible simplicity initially throws off, to later lure us in. The historical past of the protagonist is just too disturbing to be ignored. With the hurt and historic injustice far too overwhelming, the movie is an extremely irritating expertise – regardless of the hopes for a brand new opening in China’s historical past following Deng Xiaoping’s ascension to energy in 1978, Wang’s tragedy remained marginalised, culprits by no means prosecuted and the crime by no means formally recognized. 

In any case, Hu Jie is a guerilla movie maker in his personal respect. The oral historical past documentaries he made within the early 2000s are one of many uncommon works of Chinese language cinema which try to overtly focus on and contextualise the sensitive elements of the PRC’s previous. “Although I’m Gone” gives a scathing proof for the crimes which largely remained swept below the rug. Hu Jie’s work is a irritating instance of the person’s helplessness in uncovering the reality within the face of a big propaganda machine.



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