Sunday, July 31, 2005


Since I also got paid on Thursday, I bought myself another DVD, Jiaozi, directed by Fruit Chan, starring Bai Ling (possibly one of the weirdest people I've ever seen). It's actually written by Lillian Lee, who wrote the book Farewell My Concubine. Anyway, as a Chinese lit major it's sort of impossible for me not to read something into the film. But anyway, the whole plot is centers around this retired actress married to a rich straying man, who wants to regain her youth. To do so, she goes to Bai Ling who claims to be in her 60s but looks about 30. Bai Ling goes to China and picks up aborted babies and then makes dumplings with them. Anyway the whole film is about what transpires between these two women, as well as several other characters who are involved.

The movie also looks really good, but since Christopher Doyle is the cinematographer I'm not really surprised. I think Dumplings has come out in the US at least in international film festivals so if you can see it, check it out, I thought it was pretty good, and the Chinese nerd in me was happy when they made references to the Water Margin and dumplings made out of people. It fits in well with the whole Chinese people eating other people genre of modern Chinese lit.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

..there's an entire genre of that? Wow, and here I've been stuck reading constructivist drivel when I could've been reading literature about people eating people. So much cooler than Ellul. =p


Corpus callosum said...

Alas, I didn't realise cannibalism is now considered trendy in the literature world. Isn't it more of a WWII theme? You know, those stories hear from your grands talking about finding a child finger in a bun, human teeth and hair in the soup...etc.
But hey, who am I to say about chinese literature?

lovelesscynic said...

In Chinese literature anyway, cannibalism has a sort of long literary history. There are stories which are examples of filial piety in which children cut off pieces of their own flesh in order to heal or nourish their parents or parents-in-law, also in Outlaws of the Marsh or the Water Margin, there is a story of heroes who drug people and then cut them up and put them in dumplings. This isn't necessarily seen as a bad thing either.

More recently, i.e. post 1915, Lu Xun one of the more famous modern writers wrote a story called "Diary of a Madman" in which a man goes crazy and imagines that everyone around him is a cannibal and eating people and all the classics say "Eat people." It was supposed to be a condemnation of traditional Chinese culture. A more contemporary example is Mo Yan's "Republic of Wine" in which people are suspected of eating babies. Generally cannibalism in a modern Chinese literary context can be seen as part of a general condemnation of traditional culture or society that advocates the sacrifice of the young and innocent to the old and corrupt.

That's my take on it anyway.