Saturday, October 25, 2008
Comrades, Almost a Love Story
In viewing Comrades, Almost a Love Story, I was reminded of the 1984 film directed by Sergio Leone entitled Once Upon a Time in America, or C'era una volta in America. Perhaps this seems a strange connection to make, as Leone’s film gets stamped with the label of “crime film”, while the somewhat lighter Comrades has marked melodramatic elements- not to mention the fact that the films explore different cultures. In addition to this, the two films are strikingly different in regard to their content and mood. In terms of their similarities, both films tell the story of immigrants living in countries known for promising economic security- America in the case of Once Upon a Time in America, and Hong Kong and later America in Comrades. Perhaps it was the American Dream quality I found in Comrades, one I had never before associated with Hong Kong, which led me to my comparison with Leone’s film.
Following the viewing, one of our topics for class discussion was “Does Comrades feel like a Chinese film?”- This question of Chineseness has maintained a central position in our class discussions since this time. Although this was the first film we watched in the course, I took the stance that Comrades does not feel like a Chinese film, but rather an American film. Now, after having viewed a variety of Chinese language films, I no longer feel that the film has an American quality, but one that expresses trans-nationalism.
In the world we live in, one of increasing globalization, cultural isolation is becoming an impossibility- I believe this can be easily understood through viewing films by directors such as Peter Chan- the director of Comrades . Chan is the child of two Chinese nationals, but was born in Bangkok, Thailand, spent his teenage years in Singapore, and later attended film school at UCLA. He seems to cross international borders without reservation, not unlike his protagonists in Comrades; these characters live in a world that appears to be undergoing rapid change. Perhaps Chan’s film is one predicting such transnational films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which have further complicated the question, “Does this film feel Chinese?”
(Comrades, Almost a Love Story 甜蜜蜜, dir. Peter Chan 陳可辛, 1996)