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458 Ratings

An Elephant Sitting Still

大象席地而坐 | Da xiang xi di er zuo

Directed by Hu Bo
China, 2018


In the northern Chinese city of Manzhouli, they say there is an elephant that simply sits and ignores the world. Manzhouli becomes an obsession for the protagonists of this film, a longed-for escape from the downward spiral in which they find themselves.

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An Elephant Sitting Still Directed by Hu Bo
What makes Elephant exceptional is Hu Bo’s piercing sensitivity to private doubts and anxieties, and his ability to make them visible on the faces of his complex, credible characters. That, and his skill in dovetailing strands of narrative – potentially melodramatic in themselves – into something that looks and feels like heightened cinéma vérité.
December 13, 2018
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Chinese independent cinema is on the verge of extinction, which makes Hu Bo’s first and last feature film even more remarkable. A devastating counterpoint to the propagandistic frolic and box-office bonanza of franchises like Detective Chinatown or Wolf Warrior, [the film] paints a thankless portrait of contemporary China where many of the country’s glaring contradictions are exacerbated to the point of no return.
September 05, 2018
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At the risk of letting An Elephant Sitting Still collapse under the weight of its advanced praise, it must be said that its post-Jia Zhangke sprawl does not entirely feel like that of a fully realized film; its director died prematurely. Yet through all the grays, its lived-in passion play of current wretchedness and mutual inhumanity has, when all is said and done, the powerful clarity of a simple equation.
May 03, 2018

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