As a young art with a history of more than 100 years, film always tries to tell the story of the times with great ambition and passion.
Unlike the length of the text, the history in the film is always so graphic and ignorant.
In just a few hours, decades or even more than a hundred years and thousands of years, the long river of time passed away in the alternation of light and shadow.
When the end credits appear and the surroundings light up again, "I don't know that Zhou's dream is Hu Diehe, and Hu Die's dream is Zhou He".
Recently, the high-reputation movie "Chimatanghui" has been praised in a secret way in the circle of fans.
The popularity is very high, occupying the first place in the Douban hot list for 2 consecutive weeks.
Most of the viewers gave extremely high evaluations.
"First Chinese of the Year", "Best Chinese Language of the Year"...
And those who have no channels to witness the real face for the time being can only rely on the poster and introduction brain supplement on the Douban page:
This is a "film history" similar to "Farewell My Concubine", "Alive" or Jia Zhangke's "Platform".
In a very formal way, the film depicts the ups and downs of a harlequin in a Sichuan opera troupe, thus connecting and rendering the picture of China from the 30s to the 80s of the 20th century.
The overall base of the film seems to be very suitable for the two words in the English subtitles in the film -
Maniac and Melancholy.
As Qiu Jiongjiong's first feature film, "Pepper and Horse Hall Meeting" is known as "Sichuan Opera Clown Version "Alive".
The story is inspired by his grandfather: the famous Sichuan opera harlequin actor Qiu Fuxin.
To say that this movie is a long history is too heavy, it is just a person's "yin and yang cut and dawn", heavy historical gossip.
Qiu Jiongjiong, who grew up in a Sichuan opera family, has had a deep obsession with the meaning of harlequin since he was a child.
Even favorite directors and actors are famous figures of the silent film era like Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
The overall characteristics of these characters are what the director said in the interview: lively, open-minded and desolate.
While wandering the world, he watched coldly.
With the carnival of the god of wine, laughing at the world's affairs, it is even more crazy than the drama of the play.
The first scene in the film is the death on the bridge.
The elderly protagonist Qiu Fu wanders in the fog and encounters the bullhead and horse face riding three jumps to pick up his bull head.
They were ordered by King Yan to pick up Qiu Fu, who had exhausted his life, and reincarnated from Leshan to the ghost city of Yudu.
On the Huangquan Road leading to the Ghost Realm, there is a place for those who are not willing to drink Meng Po soup to reincarnate.
Here, Qiu Fu met the deceased camel who came to welcome: "When I heard that you died, I was so excited that I didn't sleep all night. ”
Physical death is often a prelude to oblivion, in order to delay the advent of this oblivion.
Qiu Fu, or rather Qiu Jiongjiong, once again.
Qiu Fu's old man, a martial artist in the drama team, actually died on the stage one day because of excessive singing.
The mother, who remarried with her younger brother, sent Qiu Fu to the "new and new" drama team, that is, abandoned him.
This drama team was raised by a senior Liu nicknamed "Ma'er", thinking of the famous quote "Gou is new, every day is new, and every day is new", and this opera team is called "new and new".
But "new plays never play old things", this "new and new", in the next half a century, but "old and old".
Society is not made up of individuals, but of a variety of social identities.
The identity of "drama" was destined to be a tumultuous event in the 1930s and 1980s.
At first, it was the Kuomintang era, and later it was the peasants who were able to stand up;
During the three-year famine, in order to feed the little girl they had picked up, Qiu Fu and his wife needed to fish maggots from the toilet, bake them and grind them into powder, and fill them with water to supplement their children's protein;
In the ten years of catastrophe, Qiu Fu and the brothers are typical cows, ghosts, snakes and gods, and naturally they have to wear high hats to be criticized...
The fall of the Manchu Qing Dynasty, the establishment of the Republic of China, the restoration of Yuan Zhang, the warlord chaos, the War of Resistance Against Japan, the War of Liberation, the Korean War... From the Naihe Bridge to the Asura Field, the world is miserable, and you sing and I appear.
Although there is a historical narrative line in "Pepper and Horse Hall Meeting" and a spatial line that wanders through the netherworld, in fact, the narrative of the film is very low.
It's like painting, like theater, but it's not "cinematic".
It seems that the director's purpose has never been to use the film's powerful and unparalleled narrative ability to bring the audience into a crying story.
It just wants the audience to look at it from afar and then remember.
Qiu Jiongjiong once said, "Form is my grammar."
"Chimatanghui" is undoubtedly a work with a strong sense of form.
It is not telling a story, but seems to be in the long river of history, taking a portrait and picture, compressing, polishing, and finally making a "time crystal" for the audience to cherish and remember.
Therefore, the seemingly exaggerated and distorted character faces and scenes in the film seem to condense the experiences of countless people over the decades.
Even if the body is dead, if you don't drink Meng Po soup, you won't forget.
Qiu Jiongjiong has always liked this black ugly aesthetic, which can be seen from his previous documentary "Grandma".
In June 2022, he did an art exhibition in Beijing's 798 Art Block with the title of "Pepper and Horse Hall Meeting", and the paintings on the exhibition also have a "harlequin" temperament: black, weird, sober, mocking.
Weird pictures, slow mirrors, no obvious time nodes, no obvious causal conflicts, plus dialect dialogue...
All of this makes "Chimatanghui" a bit dissuasive.
But if you look closely, you will find a strong beauty in form.
The film abandons the realism of the usual historical narrative, and instead adopts the Sichuan opera narrative.
The elaborate theatrical opening, as well as the shallow depth of field scheduling, frontal composition and sporty floor composition, make the film a combination of long scrolls and drama.
In addition to the form of Sichuan Opera, Qiu Jiongjiong also radiated other media forms in the film:
For example, the drama used to segment, in order to educate the drama after the founding of the People's Republic of China, let them use slides to talk about the harm of opium.
There is also Stanilawski's masterpiece "The Self-cultivation of Actors" that appeared in the film, which makes people faintly see the shadow of Stephen Chow...
The thick history is infinitely pushed away in the spatial scheduling full of stage sense and sense of dissociation, as well as the exquisite picture form.
Dramatic conflict is deliberately avoided, and the complexity and suffering of human madness conflict seem to be reduced to a shell.
As for the inner meaning, it is up to the audience to decide.
As a result, there is a strong tension in the film's infinitely simplified narrative and complex character design and spatial hypothetical design, pointing to a heavy and almost forgotten history with a soft knife.
In fact, the force of "Pepper and Horse Hall Meeting" in space design and form has a sense of overreach.
This film is Qiu Jiongjiong's drawing one by one, almost handmade in the old factory floor of less than 400 square meters.
Space and form are the best things to accomplish, and with a lot of effort, they can be impressive.
It's like we can radiate most of China in a two-hour flight time today, but no matter how hard we try, we can't go back to the last second.
The loss of time is the real loss.
Therefore, the formal reality of the film is to allow us to make up for the fiction in the narrative, to remember, to reflect.
In this virtual reality, it constitutes the life on and off the stage, and the bustling mediocrity of the world.
Therefore, the director said in the interview, "The core of what I want to express is that it cannot be forgotten." ”
The director of "Pepper and Horse Hall Meeting" Qiu Jiongjiong, a name that is somewhat unfamiliar to most people.
Although the quality of his past works is not bad.
The name was first seen through a documentary called "Aunt".
This film features the gay Fan Qihui as the protagonist, allowing him to tell his life story in front of the camera, naked and sincere to the point of almost literal.
In fact, the director's style can be seen from this film, that is, a style immersed in the film and the story in both directions, thick and light.
As a viewer behind the camera, he seems to be obsessed with the "horn" or "storyteller" on the screen like a theater fan in the audience.
The same is true of the other protagonists: Huang Lao, the old criminal policeman in "Huang Lao Lao Shooting Case", Qiu Jiongjiong's grandmother in "Xuantang Gossip", and Zhang Xianzhuo, the Chinese writer who suffered in a special era in "Idiot"...
These storytellers, as if they had mysterious and rich personal experiences and realizations, wandered through the world, approachable but sharply sober.
In their lives, there seems to be an endless story, and a mouth and a raise of their hand are alive.
They are so honest about life, almost a baby, but they reveal all the time, a sense of old age in the world.
They are Dionysus, the god of wine who lives wildly and wantonly between heaven and earth, and bards who wield long poems with suffering and upheaval.
This temperament that is both inside and outside seems to haunt Qiu Jiongjiong for a long time, so that he always pursues and shapes these breaths, his grandfather is, Fan Qihui is too, and Qiu Fu is also.
Qiu Jiongjiong's works are always very "heavy", and those characters, pictures and arrangements have undoubtedly been polished day and night.
But he is also very "light": the full 179 minutes of "Pepper and Horse Hall Meeting" is just two words, saying those things on and off the stage of a harlequin.
Between all the weight and reality, it is only an artist's memory of his life: his grandparents, the people he met, his attitude towards life, his thoughts and ambitions.
As Qiu Jiongjiong said in an interview: "I want to be an interesting and good person in this era." ”
Text/Pipi Film Editorial Department: Tong Yunxi
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