Mo Yan and Flight in Reverse: Chthonic Legend in Red Sorghum

(preamble): Why Red Sorghum – again.

I have recently rewritten the frontispiece for this website: it now focuses on the metatrope of flight. Physical flight upward, seemingly without point of return or safety armature. Something I first noticed in reviewing the Olympics Opening Ceremony with its elusive and interruptive wheeling and diving “paper” scroll. Like a piece of confetti drawn up by a Bernoulli current, or a flock of birds rising and dipping for safety. And, like the avian “herd” very often blocking the view.

Because it has symbolic weight, flying/soaring carries multiple layers of meaning, no one interpretation being thus correct. But its entry or transfer or elaboration from missile program propaganda and CGI foolery into clearly weightier symbolic territory suggests to me a pathos shared (if not elaborated or explained) by writers and film directors disillusioned or frustrated by the presumably new trelliswork governing the design and funding of major films.

An alternative does indeed now exist, and multinationals (if, sadly, mostly Hong Kong based) have room to shape and revive what was once a state monopoly, the pedestrian (I use the metaphor spatially) formulae of the original studios’ output no longer rule. (Chen Kaige’s Farewell, 1995, might be taken as the flexpoint). Leaving the cinemascribe, however, to balance on a tightrope between 2 utterly out-of-synch pillars: the one (domestic) dealing mainly with rural and collective topics captured in miniature and via simple technology, inclusive of national “minorities” subjects; the other concerned mainly with BIG TALE ersatz urban realism (including noir) but more than that with textural gloss, both in sight and sound.

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