The Eleventh Chapter: All The World’s A Stage6 min read

The Eleventh Chapter (第十一回)

Director: Jianbin Chen

Nation: China

Yr: 2019

Overview by visitor writer Chen Xiu Zhen

Superb is the tenacity of human beings to resolve issues: the Reality. Simply take a look at our preoccupation with spy novels, documentaries, biographies. All of us need some ounce of reality.

There are, nonetheless, many cases the place the reality may be difficult both by one’s personal will or anyone’s intervention. The movie The Eleventh Chapter foregrounds these issues, along with the ethics of illustration. Launched 5 years after his award-winning debut movie A Idiot, that is the second movie made by Chen Jianbin, one which he had co-written and starred in as properly. The movie encapsulates the well-known Chinese language actor’s grand imaginative and prescient of life and artwork, inside a quasi-tragedy plot that renders it nihilistic and hopeful on the similar time. Its primary issues are explored in a black comedy-drama style which delights and nudges the viewers to attach huge concepts with the on a regular basis.

The movie follows the abnormal lifetime of a middle-aged man named Ma Fuli, who finds the murder case he was charged with, for murdering his ex-wife and her alleged lover, tailored right into a stage play by the municipal theatre troupe. However he claims their adaptation is inaccurate. Issues come up when completely different characters insist on completely different portrayals of the homicide case to serve their very own narratives, every having their very own Rashomon-like conjectures of what occurred thirty years in the past. What is obvious although is that representations will at all times be distorted and by no means 100% trustworthy – subsequently the entire plot, being Ma Fuli’s endeavor to proper the fallacious of the theatrical adaptation is futile from the beginning.

Earlier than and after the curtain rises: Ma Fuli sitting contained in the tractor. Chen The Eleventh Chapter

Chen makes use of gorgeous aesthetics all through the movie, together with colour principle as an instance his level about biased representations. Through the official efficiency, Chen makes use of opposing colours, blue and orange to differentiate what’s actual and what’s staged, though this time across the play is implicitly based mostly on the target account of a witness. As soon as the curtains are drawn and the lights come on, the play commences. Instantly, the scene is washed in a deep orange hue, telling us that the occasions occurring onstage stay far divided from the blue-coded actuality: the actual Ma Fuli with the actual tractor thirty years in the past. The visible cues of warped representations are subsequently the ‘coloured lens’ by means of which we view the scene (and subsequently the tractor’s shattered aspect mirror). The movie by no means permits us to see Ma Fuli’s previous in its unmediated type.

As Commander Fu of the theatre troupe has defined, the ‘alibi’ of artwork exists as a result of inventive illustration is at all times divorced from actuality: the actual Ma Fuli model A is nothing like its staged counterpart B. However just like the characters in query, we will not be satisfied of this ‘alibi’.

Dialog between Hu Quentin and Jia Meiyi. Chen The Eleventh Chapter

Chen additionally tastefully blurs the dichotomy between reality and lie, actuality and efficiency on this scene utilizing mirrors. Paired with the dizzying impact of the swift digital camera pan, it’s straightforward to see why audiences might have hassle discerning that are reflections and that are their actual our bodies. If performs are certainly like mirrors, because the stage play director Hu Quentin had proclaimed in his radio broadcast, the movie thus conveys how efficiency may be confused with actuality. Using mirrors within the budding romance (one which leads to an extramarital affair) appears to be a nod in direction of Wong Kar Wai’s Within the Temper for Love, a movie that additionally offers with the thought of performativity. We’re left pondering if Quentin’s emotions for Meiyi are real or merely an act.

Moreover, purely from their names, we will discover references to real-life figures – movie director Quentin Tarantino and actress Meryl Streep (domestically nicknamed as Meiyi 梅姨). Meaning the 2 characters are essentially representations, already discovering their origins from the ‘exterior’ bodily actuality. Provided that the Chinese language character Jia has the identical pronunciation because the Chinese language phrase for faux, one actually wonders how dissociated from Meryl Streep is that this character Meiyi, particularly when she is as obsessive about appearing and embodying a personality as Meryl Streep is. Chen brilliantly morphs philosophical inquiries of actuality versus efficiency right into a type of Easter egg hunt that has the viewers gathering clues and pondering in summary phrases.

Jin Cailing makes use of an excessively huge pillow for her being pregnant ‘act’. Chen The Eleventh Chapter

Delving additional into the dichotomy between reality and lie, the movie additionally grounds its philosophical contemplation on Ma Fuli’s household, his second spouse Jin Cailing, and stepdaughter Jin Duoduo. Deception is a significant theme that runs by means of the scenes involving them, ranging from the opening sequence of the radio program that talked about how moms often inform white lies to their kids for their very own good. After discovering out that Duoduo was pregnant, Cailing disguised herself as a pregnant lady, utilizing a pillow-stuffed stomach, to spare Duoduo from the shame of getting a child out of wedlock. Nevertheless, Ma Fuli means that their pretense solely applies to public look. Which implies, in entrance of others, Duoduo has a youthful sibling; In non-public, Duoduo has a baby. This added complexity of an ‘exterior’, ‘inside’ reality informs us of the overwhelming limitations to authenticity, particularly when the household serves as a parallel to the theatre troupe that solely has entry to the exterior reality. Just like the theatre’s inclination to twist the information, individuals, in actuality, are additionally consistently performing, mendacity to take care of an look – of chastity, or of respectability. Chen accentuates Ma Fuli’s household drama with absurdity components (assume elliptical modifying and abrupt swollen eyes) and intensified feelings (shaky digital camera and excessive close-up photographs) to underscore their theatrical nature. Subsequently, life is nothing however an offstage play – its difficulties will hopefully pan out if we maintain appearing our elements.

Aesthetically shot, intellectually layered, and extra suave than anticipated of Chinese language cinema, it is a charming movie not designed for lots searching for a passive, mind-numbing watching expertise. This can be a movie that boldly questions, and invitations us to ruminate about, the inextricable relationship between artwork and actuality, between the veracity of information and the fictionality of narratives. When you’ve got a real love for movie as an artform, The Eleventh Chapter won’t disappoint.

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