Set in Jia’s native Fenyang in Shanxi Province, the film offers an epic social history of China in radical cultural and economic transformation from Maoism to market capitalism. This transition is charted through the trials and tribulations of a troupe of young performers…
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Staggering cinema, surely one of the finest films of the 21st Century and certainly one of the most moving and poetic. Jia casts a beautiful eye over the lives of a group of travelling artists who experience the changes and reforms of Chinese society in the 80s, and while it's so huge in scale, Jia never loses his attention to the fine subtleties and the stunning level of humanity he brings, his masterpiece. 5/5
With Éloge de l'amour (Godard), Syndromes and Century (Weersathakul), In Vanda's Room-Colossal Youth (Costa), West of the Tracks (Bing) and Ten (Kiarostami), Platform is one of the most important achievement in the 21th Century so far!
I feel like I'll need a better transfer with better subtitles to fully grasp the details and story arc of this one—someone, please get on that—but I was gripped for the two and a half hours, digging the elliptical style that feels like dipping in and out of strangers lives as one era gives way to another.
It reminded me of Edward Yang's "Brighter Summer Day" and of Hou Hsiao-hsien's films (some of my favourite films ever). It was a really complex and emotional experience. I was blown, and now I have to get out for a walk to think about it. Great, great film and director.
It doesn't blend doc and fiction like later films, but Platform is Jia's most ontological focus on being, history and culture. He embodies something of all the great modern poets (Kiarostami, Hou, Edward Yang, Tsai, even a bit of Wong Kar-Wai, if only on an emotional and not aesthetic level). No one has better captured China's sociopolitical hypocrisy, and no one has better depicted the aching humanity beneath it.
Amazing shots and use of sound, in particular music. Alternately very funny ("Pushkin"), chilling (the discussion of Piggy while learning to smoke), heart breaking (Cui's miner cousin), moving (the two bookending haircuts) and so much more. I've never seen a film better capture how much of life is determined by where (and to whom) you happen to be born. Never heavy handed. An absolute masterpiece.