The World

Synopsis & Film Details

Acclaimed Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke (Platform, Unknown Pleasures) casts a compassionate eye on the daily lives, friendships and desperate dreams of the twenty-somethings from China’s remote Provinces who come to live and work at Beijing’s World Park. A bizarre cross-cultural pollination of Las Vegas and Epcot Center, World Park features lavish shows performed amid scaled-down replicas of the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, St. Mark’s Square, the Pyramids and even the Twin Towers. From the sensational opening tracking shot of a young dancer’s backstage quest for a Band-Aid to poetic flourishes of animation and clever use of text-messaging, Jia pushes past the kitsch potential of this surreal setting–a real-life Beijing tourist destination. The Village Voice called Jia “the world’s greatest filmmaker under forty,” and The World is his funniest, most inventive and touching work to date.

Director’s Statement

More and more, I get the feeling that the surreal has become reality in Beijing. This is what I kept in mind during the making of THE WORLD. Because of urbanization, I think the city has lost its notions of the differences between night and day, the four seasons. We have gained speed by completely losing slowness. It’s the same in all of China’s big cities. This led me to thinking about our connection to the virtual network. From one word to another, from one person to another. Relationships both free and restricted, deep and superficial. All part of our perception of this world.

Directed by Jia Zhang-Ke
2004, China, 139 min., not rated
In Mandarin and Shanxi, with English subtitles