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Aftershock is a film released in 2010 directed by Feng Xiaogang. The film is generally about the China’s devastating 1976 Tangshan Earthquake. The earthquake claimed lives of about two hundred and forty thousand people. The film narrows down to the story the family of Li Yuanni which was directly affected by the earthquake. The paper outlines an overview of the film considering its style and also the themes. The effect of the conventions used on Chinese identities is also outlined in the paper. The paper mainly outlines the issues of gender politics, migration problems, and the role of spectacle and performance.
The Aftershock film employs the conventions aimed at construction of the Chinese entity. Any audience familiar to the Chinese culture and society will definitely realize that the film is Chinese-based. For instance, the visual trope employed through the film strengthens the Chinese entity. This implies that by just viewing the visual presentation of the film, it is clear that it the film is Chinese-based. In addition to that, the music overturns convention strengthens the Chinese entity in the film. Both the presentation and the themes of the music explains the real life in Chinese society.
However, the tropes and conventions employed through the film, do not restrict the application of the film to the Chinese society only. In reality, the genre gives a room for the flexibility, progression and the evolution of the identities. For instance, the music overturn gives an implication of the cultural continuity as well as evolution. The representation of the Chinese society as a civilized and modern implies the evolution and progression of the Chinese entity. In addition to that, the morals and images reflected in the genre match the conventions. Therefore, the genre is not necessarily restricted to limited morals or standards. However, the film might attempt to disengage with the Chinese. This could be driven by the demand of the audience. The film director might try to do whatever it takes to win the interests of the audience as well as communicate the message. This can call for disengagement of the film from the Chineseness.
As mentioned before, the theme of gender politics is much communicated in the film. Generally, the female gender is suffering great unfairness from the female one. This implies a great gender violence as per the film. For instance, after the earthquake, rescue workers asked Yuan Ni to choose who to be saved between the son and the daughter. The mother finally proposes the son to be saved at the expense of the daughter. This shows that the male gender is basically given more consideration over the female one.
Secondly, after surviving, Fang Zeng experiences great hardships in life which are basically because of her gender. First, Zeng suffers the trauma of being assumed as an orphan. This is due to the decision her mother had made before. In addition to that, after joining the college to study medicine, she meets Yang Zhi and begins an intimate relationship with him. She finds out later that she is pregnant and Yang pressured her to abort. This is quite a challenge that Fang Zeng is exposed to as a female orphan. This makes her drop out of the school. The female gender is basically represented as inferior and submissive as compared to the male. This is why Fang Zeng is forced by circumstances to forgive her mother.
Therefore, the film imagines and constructs the manhood over womanhood. Various stereotypes are employed to prove the strength of manhood as well as the weakness of womanhood. For instance, at the start of the film the Fang Zeng’s father is presented as loving and gentle. The father is stereotypically presented to be performing the roles of a parent perfectly. On reaching home, Fang Da swipes a freshly washed tomato, leaving non for his sister. This proves the stereotype that men are superior to women. Their mother promises to wash Zeng another tomato instead of warning Fang Da. This proves the submissive nature of women that is stereotypically presented in the film. During the earthquake, the Fang’s father denies Yuan Ni, their mother from rescuing them and instead he went ahead for the rescue. This resulted to his death while proving the stereotypical strength and courage of a man.
The employment of these gender-laden themes basically draw the attention of the audience. This serves as the main purpose since the audience is set ready to get the communicated information. In addition to that, these themes tend to improve the film’s taste positively to suit the audience expectations. For instance, the male audience tends to be more interested in films that portray their positive character.
Apart from gender politics, the film reflects the issues of migration and transnationalism. For instance, four years after dropping out of school, Fang Zeng goes back to see her adoptive father. On New Year’s Eve, Fang Zeng tells her adoptive father that she is getting married to a foreigner. She adds that she will be migrating to Vancouver, Canada. This brings to discussion the issue of migration and transnationalism. After getting married, Yang Zeng moves to Canada thus changing her nationality. She later interacts with the new environs and adapts. This shows the freedom within the Chinese culture in terms of interactions with other cultures.
The film perfectly embodies the themes of migration and transnationalism in their generic conventions and visual design. For instance, the compatibility of the Chinese culture with others is highly portrayed. This indirectly enhances the perfect embodying of the migration theme in its generic convention. The film also presents the theme of transnationalism through the marriage of Fang Zeng abroad. Through this way, the film enhances perfect embodiment of the theme in its generic convention as well as visual design.
The culture and language are presented as very vital aspects in a society. For example, the film upholds the Chinese culture recognizes the man’s superiority over the woman. This aspect brings a direct impact on the migration and transnational themes. Therefore, the treatment of the female emigrants and transnationals will be based on their respective native culture. The politics also play an important role in the migration and transnational circulation.
The film entails, through description, that political stability highly favors migration and transnational circulation. For instance, when Fang Zeng sees the earthquake in Sichuan on television, she immediately volunteers to join the rescuers. In addition to this, she returns to China where she meets her family. This is basically a product of political stability in China. Specifically, multiculturalism has a direct effect on migration and transnationalism. The concerned individuals can comfortably tour their native multicultural nation easily and freely. Thus multiculturalist is a political aspect of great relevance to migration and transnationalism.
The Aftershock film has greatly employed the use of spectacle and performance. The two are basically enhanced by the various aspects of film production employed in the film. For instance, the visual design of the Aftershock creates a lasting memory to the audience. This indirectly enhances the spectacle and its roles. The landscape also creates a platform that effects the employment of spectacle and performance. In the Aftershock film, the presentation of the landscape gives the film a lasting effect to the audiences’ memory. In addition to that, the performance is directly judged from the landscape. Therefore, the landscape directly influences the spectacle and performance employment in the film.
The aspects based on shot composition and camerawork and other artistic activities build the application of the spectacle and performance. These may entail the cutting and editing, special effects and stunt work. Al these aspects perfect the spectacle and performance. This perfection directly enhance the sense of the two. The aim of any piece of art is to satisfy the audience. This satisfaction can be rated according to the respective audience response. The audience response gives the author and the director of a film a positive motive. The audience is actually the consumer of the work of art like the film. Therefore, the response from the audience is basically an extra input to the work of art. This response can be in form of applause and appreciation.
The film’s use of genre enhances understanding and thus constructing relevant meanings and significance of the film. The genre basically simplifies the presentation as well as ensuring some order and flow of plot. Based on the location, the genre creates meanings by including the culture and aspects of the target location in the film. This applies too for the gender and ethnicity of the target audience. The process of ensuring equity across different ethnic groups and gender interests is thus not easy. This contributes to the failure of the film’s attempt to cross borders and reach different audiences.
In conclusion, the Aftershock film greatly uses generic conventions and visual design to construct Chinese identities for different audiences. These generally allow for the flexibility and evolution of the Chinese identities. The film reflects the issues of gender politics. It constructs manhood over womanhood through its use of generic conventions. The film also addresses the issues of migration and transnationalism and the factors affecting the two. The role of spectacle and performance is greatly employed in the Aftershock film. These directly influence theaudience response. This response is quite critical to film improvement. The film’s use of genre constructs certain meanings and significance of the film to the audience.