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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Red Sorghum - 2018 words
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.. suspicion. Nine looks dazedly at Yu as she recovers from her surprise. In a wordless exchange of glances, she communicates her sexual desire for him. The latter begins to trample upon the six-foot-high sorghum which Yu flattens into a circular bed.
Having accomplished this, Yu once again takes Nine under his arm and effortlessly carries her into the clearing. His manner of courtship, brusque and unpretentious, emphasises male power, strength and virility.(4) In contrast to the image of the civilized gentleman, Yu exudes a raw and vital energy which makes him a compatible match for the bold-spirited Nine. At this point, the shrill background music of the traditional suona horn is announced, 'echoing the sounds of an old man shouting in the fields' while drums 'like the beating of a human heart'(5) herald their ardour and liberation. The camera moves to show a close-up of Nine's face, eyes closed in rapture with the sun like a halo around her as she softly falls backward onto her true nuptial bed of red sorghum. Another high-angled shot reveals in panoramic beauty Nine outstretched on the ground with Yu standing over her, while all around them, the red sorghum plants wave and rustle in the wind
The next image gives the film its title: a close-up of the rhythmic undulation of the red sorghum leaves in the wind -- a powerful metaphor for the sexual act and a symbol of the film's central themes of passion and freedom. Later in the film, the trampling of the sorghum field changes into a symbol of oppression as the members of the community, young and old, are forced by Japanese soldiers to flatten the wild sorghum to make space for a new highway. In Red Sorghum, Zhang uses the interaction between nature and human beings to produce images filled with vitality. Yu and Nine consummate their love not in the darkness of a room but under a blazing sun in the sorghum field. Their ardent encounter results in the birth of their son Douguan (Liu Ji), underscoring the fact that passion is the source of life, both literally and figuratively. The film goes beyond using sexuality to express human passion; it also makes the point that passion is something good and desirable, even essential.
The essence of living with a measure of intensity is that it encourages action, paving the way for independence and freedom. To have the will and courage to act according to one's conscience is to possess passion, without which it becomes impossible to transcend the safety trap of mediocrity, conventionality and oppressive traditions. The use of nature is also featured in the wine-making process which transforms the sorghum plant, with the addition of water and the application of heat to become red sorghum wine. An unorthodox natural ingredient, urine, which Yu bestows in a spirit of defiance, surprisingly improves the flavour and causes the wine to become famous. Later the act is repeated in the film when Yu commands his son, Douguan, to urinate into a vat of sorghum wine.
This time, the purpose is to fortify the wine as a weapon against the Japanese enemies. The wine-making sequence also contains an extraordinarily earthy scene; Yu saunters into the wine-press, interrupting the amiable conversation of the workers with mocking words, his voice unusually deep, betraying his pent-up tension from the recent confrontation with the notorious bandit, Sanpao (Ji Cunhua), an encounter from which he has miraculously emerged alive. The heated atmosphere with the entrance of Yu is made palpable through the smoke of the fires and the perspiration of workers. Yu proceeds to soothe his raw nerves by urinating into several vats of newly consecrated wine. He then offers to empty the huge pot of ash produced by the wine-making process.
As Yu shovels out the pot, the director films him from a low angle, emphasizing his strength and virility. The ash falls in showers around the radiant Nine who stands rooted to the ground as if transfigured by the falling ash. Seeing her thus impassioned, Yu carries her in his customary fashion and takes her to bed, marking their new beginning as husband and wife. The scene is remarkable for its tangible sense of tension and passion accomplished almost purely through imagery. While the use of natural elements heightens the emotion of passion, the songs in Red Sorghum seem to celebrate the right to individual expression and freedom from oppression.
They also reinforce the mythical content of the film; the songs are close in sound and form to traditional Shandong opera, and two of them -- the sedan carriers' song and the song to the god of wine -- have lyrics by Zhang himself.(6) In the scene after Yu and Nine have made love in the sorghum, Nine continues her journey on muleback to her father's house with Yu travelling parallel to her, completely hidden in the tall sorghum. As they journey along, Yu serenades with gusto to Nine. His song aggravates and perplexes Nine's father who is unable to see the hidden singer. Press on, bravely, sweetheart, press on, don't turn back. There are 9990 roads, 9990 roads to heaven.. Press on, bravely, sweetheart, press on, don't turn back. You'll have a red betrothal stall, To choose a man you'll throw a ball And on my head it'll fall. I'll drink with you, We'll drink red, red sorghum wine.(7) Since the cheeky ballad is sung with clear disregard of Nine's marital status in the presence of her father, the song is not only Yu's token of love to her but it is also a statement of rebellion against tradition and authority.
Another remarkable song in the film is sung by the distillery workers to consecrate the new red sorghum wine. Besides being good humoured and down-to-earth, the lyrics invoke good health and courage and a hint of rebellion: New wine on the ninth of ninth Good wine from our labour, good wine! If you drink our wine, You'll breathe well, you won't cough. If you drink our wine, You'll be well, your breath won't smell. If you drink our wine, You'll dare go through Qingsha Kou alone. If you drink our wine, You won't kowtow to the emperor On the ninth of ninth you'll go with me Good wine, good wine, good wine!(8) The anti-authoritarian implication is not only found in the song's lyrics, it is suggested by the very act of wine-drinking.
In the Chinese historical memory, heavy drinking can be a transgression of decorum, an act of defying convention, a route to visionary intensity or a way of achieving autonomy. It also bears the burden of moral condemnation for spiritual degradation, over-indulgence and social irresponsibility.(9) The popularity of the film in China when it was screened in the mid-1980s reflects not only a more tolerant political climate but also the rediscovery of pleasure-giving elements such as sex, wine and earthy songs and the tenuous rejection of Communist puritanism together with many other tenets of the Chinese Communist dogma. In Red Sorghum, Zhang presents images and sounds of pleasure as a means to augment the desire and courage to do what is right. Towards the end of the film, the distillery workers make a vow to avenge Luohan's death by chanting the song to the God of Wine. By drinking the wine in Luohan's memory, they invoke the valour of heroes to carry out justice, even at the expense of sacrificing their lives. The final scene compresses with mythical power the themes of the film.
The red colour of the landscape, introduced through the unforgettable image of a solar eclipse, is a searing reflection of the violence and bloodshed in the struggle against the Japanese. However, it is also a reminder of the characters' love of life, passion and spiritual freedom. By chanting a children's rhyme to send off his mother's soul into her next life, Douguan reminds the audience that true heroes never really die; they are immortalized in legends to have their lives of passion, boldness, and freedom recounted and emulated.`Red Sorghum' is the sort of scenic, romantic, violent, symbolic melodrama that flowered in the early years of the cinema. The fact that it was made in 1988, and shot in China in CinemaScope and color, doesn't make it a modern film, but that is quite all right. There is a strength in the simplicity of this story, in the almost fairy-tale quality of its images and the shocking suddenness of its violence, that Hollywood in its sophistication has lost.
The works of the 'Fifth Generation' of People's Republic filmmakers have been seen widely in America at film festivals and on campuses, but 'Red Sorghum,' by Zhang Yimou, is the first modern Chinese film to be released commercially in this country. Playing at the Music Box through Saturday, it arrives decorated with the Golden Bear, the highest award of the 1988 Berlin Film Festival. It also carries on its shoulders the hopes of the Xi'an Film Studio, birthplace of a tentative 'new wave' of Chinese filmmaking. The mainline Chinese movie market is enormous (18 studios supply 140 films a year, attracting 25 billion admissions), but a deliberate effort to produce world-class cinema is being made mostly at Xi'an (rhymes with 'shan'). 'Red Sorghum' begins as a memory, being told by an unseen narrator, of his grandmother.
She was, we learn, a poor girl who in the late 1920s was sent by her parents into a pre-arranged marriage with a much older man. The good news was that he owned a vineyard. The bad news was that he had leprosy. The girl thoughtfully slips a pair of scissors into her blouse before being borne off by sedan chair to meet her husband. As her party makes its way through a field of sorghum, it is attacked by bandits.
One of her escorts fights off the assailant, and then slips away into the fields - only to accost her the next day in a raid of his own. But she is grateful to him for having saved her life, and they make love. Time passes. The leper dies, and the young widow takes over control of the winery, which has fallen on hard times. She inspires the workers to take new pride in their wine, and once again meets the man who saved and deflowered her.
He now is an alcoholic, who gets drunk one night and urinates into a vat of the wine. But somehow his urine serves as a catalyst, and the vintage tastes better than ever before. All of the events up until this point in the film have had the feel of a twice-told fable, an old family story passed down from generation to generation. Then 'Red Sorghum' takes an unexpected turn into realism, as World War II begins and Japanese troops invade the area, flattening the fields with forced labor from the vineyard. The workers revolt against the Japanese, and after their uprising is crushed, the Japanese order two of the local people skinned alive in front of the others. This sequence, shocking in its detail, is a dramatic change from the fable that went before. 'Red Sorghum' perhaps can be read as a parable of China's development, or as a hymn in praise of the way the workers resisted the Japanese invaders. Western audiences probably are going to be more interested in the melodrama and the overwhelming visual quality of the film.
It is some kind of irony that when Hollywood switched over to cheaper and faster forms of making color films, classic Technicolor equipment was dismantled and sold to China - which now makes some of the best-looking color films in the world. The cinematography in 'Red Sorghum' has no desire to be subtle, or muted; it wants to splash its passionate colors all over the screen with abandon, and the sheer visual impact of the film is voluptuous. If the story is first naive and then didactic, that is one of the film's charms; Hollywood doesn't make films like this anymore, because we have forgotten how to be impressionable enough to believe them.
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