Film Review: Journey to the West (2021) by Kong Dashan

For his debut function, Beijing Movie Academy alumni Kong Dashan, selected to maneuver into mockumentary instructions, in a movie that loans its title from the Chinese language literature basic, and its theme from the long-lasting House Exploration Journal, a periodical that was printed in China through the 80s and 90s and targeted on arousing the curiosity of the then younger technology to discover area and the scientific world.

Journey to the West screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam

Nederland, Rotterdam, 11/01/2021,

iffr vlaggen op de boompjes,

foto Jan de Groen

In that setting, and thru flashbacks in VHS high quality that introduce us to the previous of the journal’s editor-chief, we get acquainted to the protagonist of the film Tang Zhijun, who continues his seek for UFOs and extraterrestrial life, even though he’s broke, each financially and mentally. His relationship together with his spouse can also be fairly intense, since she is de facto fed up with him, but in addition doesn’t appear in a position to abandon him regardless of her fixed nagging, even when he decides to research the collective sighting of an alien ship in a village known as Burning Nest, the place a stone ball disappeared from the mouth of a stone lion. Much more, they discover themselves accompanied by a homeless drunk and an insomniac, in a fairly absurd parallel to the unique “Journey to the West”. After coping with plenty of crooks who nonetheless handle to take cash from him, regardless of his spouse’s sometimes violent protests, he meets Solar Yitong, a younger man who claims he has acquired directions from aliens on the way to retrieve the stone ball, and who writes poems on the facet.

The general method Kong implements is that of a fable, with the street journey facet being stuffed with episodes that may solely be perceived as humorous, as within the case of the alien within the fridge, or the truth that the drunkard retains ending up sleeping in probably the most absurd locations. Moreover, the interactions together with his spouse are additionally hilarious on time, along with her hysteric methods and his laconic resolve clashing in probably the most amusing method.

On the identical time nonetheless, the entire demeanor of Tang is something however humorous, as he seems as a person actually damaged, whose obsession (to the purpose of habit) has led him to a downward spiral nobody appears in a position to save him from. As he strikes his unhappy determine round, one can solely really feel sorry for him, in an method that may very well be perceived as a critique in direction of the plethora of people who find themselves additionally obsessive about any comparable notions.

Alternatively, Kong doesn’t appear to need to let his protagonist be fully destroyed, with the truth that he nonetheless finds followers, however much more so, by means of his interactions with Solar, that outcome within the suspicion that the protagonist will not be truly improper, transferring in direction of this path. These “gentle” sci-fi components truly work fairly nicely for the narrative, additionally giving a fairly interesting finish to the story.

The identical applies to Hu Shuzhen’s enhancing, with the assorted various kinds of footage being related in very vogue, and his frequent cuts giving a way of pace that matches the episodic method of the narrative. Matthias Delvaux, who was additionally in “The Cloud in Her Room” presents some very interesting photographs now and again, by means of his sharp contrasts, that appear to even dictate, now and again, the absurdity that characterizes the entire manufacturing.



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