Reminder that we are open for submissions for our 7th issue, with the theme “MUD 泥”. You can find both conceptual and visual prompts on our webpage at sinetheta.net/#issue7!
One of our prompts is the 1984 Chinese film “Yellow Earth” (黄土地 Huang tudi), directed by Chen Kaige with cinematography by Zhang Yimou.
Both graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 1982 and would become the biggest figures in Fifth Generation Chinese cinema, with Chen directing “Farewell my Concubine” and Zhang directing “To Live” and “Hero” (and “The Great Wall”!) among others.
Set in Shaanxi in 1939, a revolutionary soldier arrives at a village to collect folk songs that he can convert into Communist anthems, where he meets a young girl who yearns for a bigger life.
A sensory experience full of beautiful imagery and rural folk songs, “Yellow Earth” is not only a technical masterwork but a groundbreaking film that broke the mold of Chinese cinema after Communism and provoked controversy for its non-positive depiction of the Chinese Communist Party’s relationship with the poor.
It is also the film that inspired Sixth Generation director Jia Zhangke (“Unknown Pleasures”, “Still Life”) to become a filmmaker.
You can watch it on YouTube at the link above; although the quality isn’t the best. We nonetheless recommend that you give this seminal work of cinema a chance!
After you watch it, reflect on its themes, cinematography, and impact. We’d like to invite you to submit to us about this topic, whether it’s film criticism or analysis, a continuation of the story, or literature/artwork that responds more emotionally to it.
Also check out our Tumblr post about this film, one of the first blog posts we ever made back in October 2016.