Still Life 三峡好人
I watched Jia Zhang-ke's STILL LIFE the other day and I was greatly intrigued and tiny bit moved.
And I'm still puzzled by the title he chose to give his movie.Still life.In art realm,it's an art form.According to Answers.com,it means " Representation of inanimate objects, such as flowers or fruit, in painting or photography".Something we call JIN WU in Chinese.But as is always the case with english,or any other language for that matter(except for French perhaps,which is the self-proclaimed most beautiful language in the world),there're easily multiple meanings for pretty much every phrase.Still life could also mean a quiet life,a tranquil life,an uneventful life and the like.Or it could be just some words taken directly from a sentence like "well,it's still life",which goes to show those unsavory aspects of life you'd have to lump and the paramount need to move on.
Whatever you choose to interpret the movie title would guide you in a specific angle to interpret this movie and the subject matter it aims to tackle.
In my opinion,Jia chose the title STILL LIFE with all the above contemplations in mind.
Two pairs of lovers.one set to get together,the other about to break up.And they all chose to put on this special act of their lives in an ancient city soon to be submerged beneath the Yangtze River.Fengjie,a city with thousands of years of history,will give way to the grand Three Gorges Project of China which is well underway.Thousands upon thousands of people are displaced,dispersed and relocated to far-flung areas of China.Old city blocks are demolished,obliterated forever from the memories of people,history and map.So the fact that those two pairs of lovers(or ex) chose to meet in this town takes on a symbol significance stronger than randomness of life.Something have to go,something will never leave.The same is true of love and life.
Jia's choosing Still Life as the movie title also points out the artistic stance he takes toward his subject matter(in this case,the mundane lives of ordinary people) and even filmmaking as a whole.He filmed their lives as if he was doing a still-life drawing.From afar,not interrupting,keenly observant,meticulous in capturing details,trying to dig out significance,however subtle,to delight and engage the audience.I recalled telling my sis when I was about halfway through the movie,"Jia's movie watches more like a documentary,not a feature film."And the feeling is genuine,and well,perhaps valid as well.
And Jia is right in choosing to tackle it this way,this Still-life-drawing way.For a movie like STILL LIFE ,there's little need for you to contrive,to plot and to embellish as a director.All you need to do is to hint,to allude,to point and to inspire.You serve as the director quite literally.You just give people the direction,people go explore on their own,and they reach the artistic destination you intend them to reach on their own appreciative capabilities and merits.
And it's a marvelous thing the subject matter of the movie happens to relate to the still life,the ordinarily,typically quiet life every ordinary people seems to be leading.And it also entails the consequences of people's life decisions,good or bad,bleak or promising.Either way,when the dust settles,it's Still life,isn't it?
Good movie and good title,indeed.
历史上的今天：世上已无寅次郎 Tora-san no more... 2008-01-07