Global Chinese Culture
On February 20, prizes were awarded at the 62nd Berlin film festival. Chinese film White Deer plain (Bai lu yuan) won the Silver Bear for outstanding artistic contribution (camera) for its exceptional photography. The cinematographer, Lutz Reitemeier, has been working with director Wang Quan’an (王全安) for ten years. This is also the third time that Mr. Wang’s work has won an award at Berlin film festival since his Tuya’ Marriage and Apart Together.
The film is an adaptation of the novel White Deer Plain written by Chen Zhongshi (陈忠实). It tells an epic tale spanning three generations of the Bai and Lu families in Bai Lu Village. The conflicts between the two peasant families serve as a miniature of the primitive living situation of northern peasants in China. The main story line in the film is the romantic relationships the leading female role Bai Xiao’e (played by Zhang Yuqi, 张雨绮) has with men from the two families. The story is told in a time span of thirty years from the end of Qing Dynasty to the beginning of the Anti-Japanese War. The evolution of society in history and its influence on common people can be seen through the ups and downs of two families.
White Deer Plain has borne strong references to both Chinese history and culture during that period. The novel is considered one of the best works in Chinese contemporary literature and the screen adaptation can be a great challenge. The film has been under preparation for 9 years and it took 3 years to finish it. Like the other works of director Wang Quan’an, White Deer Plain has won great acclaim after its preview in China. Some think the film has a serious subject matter that is lack in today’s Chinese films. Some even say that it is a rare work since 1949.
The film has aroused high expectations among Chinese movie fans as well as famous cultural figures with its unique local features–the sea of rolling wheat on the vast plain, the Shanxi dialect, and traditional Qin opera, which help re-create the original and authentic living scene of that specific historical period.
White Deer Plain was the only Chinese film to compete at this year’s Berlin film festival. The original length is more than three hours and it may face a cut before Chinese audience sees it in the cinema.