Zhantai (Platform) (2000)
Director: Zhang Ke Jia.
Starring: Hong Wei Wang (Minliang), Tao Zhao (Ruijuan), Jing Dong Liang (Chang Jun), Tian Yi Yang (Zhong Pin), Bo Wang (Yao Eryong).
a performance troupe changes with the changes in the political climate in China
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
1980s. China. Peasant Culture Group from Fenyang. The troupe of actors puts on a "propaganda" performance entitled "Train to Shaoshan", Mao's hometown. Actor Cui Minliang gets balled out by the director of the troupe for being late getting on the bus. Cui Minliang and Chang Jun go see an Indian movie with Yin Ruijuan and Zhong Pin. Yin Ruijuan is called out of the film to talk with someone she is followed by Cui Minliang. The two talk for awhile. Ruijuan tells him that her aunt wants to arrange a marriage for her with a dentist. Cui acts like it doesn't bother him.
The troupe holds a troupe meeting. Young people with banners shout "Long live birth control! One child is enough!" After the meeting Yin Ruijuan talks with Zhong Pin. Ruijuan mentions that "Piggy" has been charged and has received the death penalty. They talk about how the death sentence will be carried out.
Cui Minliang talks with Yin Ruijuan and asks her if she is his girlfriend. Ruijuan answers that she does not know. Mingliang is upset and leaves. Later Zhong Pin talks to Minliang and tells him that he has upset her friend Ruijuan. She tells him to speak with Ruijuan and he does talk with her. But Ruijuan tells him that she does not think that they are a good match for each other and her father does not like him. Mingliang responds: "You know what's wrong? You said it too late." and he leaves once again.
Zhong Pin is pregnant. Chang Juan goes with her to an abortion clinic. But there the doctor hears from Ping that she does not want to have an abortion. Juan talks with her and tells her to go on into the abortion room. She tells him: "F___ you!", slaps him and goes into the room to have the abortion.
It is the 35th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Den Xiaoping is in charge now. He institutes an "open door" cultural policy to replace the Cultural Revolution that was a fiasco for China. China moves toward Western-influenced consumer capitalism. This, naturally, gives the acting troupe greater freedom to put on the performances they actually want to perform. The troupe has now stopped being a commune and will go through the process of privatization. Song Juan puts up the money to buy the troupe. Pin is still upset with Juan and her friend Ruijuan is sad. Ruijuan drops out of the troupe and takes another job.
Minliang meets his cousin Sanming. A possible arranged marriage is discussed for Sanming. Sanming's sister Wenying is studying to go to the university level, but the family may need her to work.
In a small village the acting troupe helps the residents celebrate the coming of electricity to their village.
Sanming takes a $10.00 dollar a day job working for a mining company. At the end of the day he gives $5.00 dollars to Minliang to give to his sister and to tell her to go to the university and don't come back to her village.
The truck transporting the acting troupe gets stuck in the mud and the troupe has to walk back to their quarters. Pin rests in the bed with Juan and twice she tells him that she wants to be his wife. Juan does not seem to be very interested. The next scene the police are questioning the couple as regards their behavior. The two young people each tells the police that they are married, but later Juan admits that they are not married. The police then confront Pin and tell her that Juan has already confessed the truth, that they are not married. Pin seems crushed by this information and she admits the truth. After this questioning by the police, Ping leaves the troupe without saying a word to anybody. She just disappears. Even her own father does not know where she is.
Back home Minliang treats his family to a restaurant meal. This is the first time his mother has ever eaten out. Minliang gives Wenying $10.00 dollars and tells her that Sanming told him that she should go to the university.
Juan is very upset over Pin's disappearance and Minliang tries to comfort him.
Minliang and Juan now are part of the troupe under the new names of the All-Star Rock 'n' Breakdance Electronic Band.
Minliang and Juan are now back home in Fenyang. Ruijuan delivers mail to the troupe and sees Minliang. She talks with him for a short time and asks him to come see her at her place. Minliang does visit her. They start to talk, but they are still unsure of each other and the conversation seems a bit stilted.
The last scene is of Pin with a baby boy in a small apartment with what appears to be a husband.
Good movie. The movie seems to be primarily about the difficulty of young people experiencing unrequited love and difficulties in getting together permanently. Pin's love is not returned by Juan and Minliang's love is not returned by Ruijuan. (Minliang and Ruijuan may or may not be getting together toward the end of the movie.) These "love" stories are set against their employment in an acting troupe that travels from village to village putting on performances. And they are also set against the impact of the changing political situation in China which brings big changes to the acting troupe. My wife said it was kind of sad because the people were very poor and the young people had great difficulties in communicating with each other.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
See Last Emperor (Bertolucci) (1987)
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