The fourth feature by internationally acclaimed auteur Jia Zhangke was also his breakout success, an epic with a canvas as vast, and intimate, as its title suggests: a state-of-the-modern-world address, and a look at the insular world of a troupe of Chinese stage-performers dreaming of freedom…
Zhao Tao, Jia’s muse, is one of these troupers. For Tao and the larger ensemble of pageant performers at Beijing’s real-life World Park (a sprawling hyper-pastiche of global landmarks — “famous sites from five continents”), love is respite from work, work is respite from love, and the line that extends from the past to the future loses all definition beyond the present.
A testament to the wisdom of this young filmmaker who arrived in the late 1990s with Xiao Wu and, in 2000, Platform (regarded by many to be the greatest film of the 2000s), Shijie / The World provides an image of globalisation as a paradox: at once a phenomenon rooted in social control, and a network that allows connection across individual people and populations.
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