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On the Mountain.


Produced by Zhu Chuanming. Executive producer, Wang Shiqing.

Directed, written by Zhu Chuanming. Camera (color, Betacam SP), Zhu; editor, Wang Shiqing. Reviewed at Vienna Film Festival, Oct. 21, 2003. Original title: Shang shan. Running time: 100 MIN.

Visually eloquent proof that just about any job description is preferable to that of Chinese peasant, "On the Mountain" is a leisurely portrait of illiterate people from four cohabiting generations eking out a hardscrabble existence in an unidentified region. Fests are logical destination for debuting helmer's formally composed, modestly affecting glimpse of a rustic parallel world of diminishing possibilities.

In a realm of constant manual labor and few words, just about everything is done the way it's been done for centuries--chopping wood, catching fish, planting tea, making incense sticks. Younger mountain dwellers express their boredom but don't see any prospects in the city. The status quo seem benign, if difficult, until a county policeman informs a couple with a fifth child on the way that they've broken the birth-control policy. If they don't pay an unaffordable fine, "The police will knock down your house without a word." A matchmaker tries to find a female mate for pic's central character. Grandpa sends for a photographer to take a family portrait. A few bravely conceptual, comic scenes are pitch black except for tiny points of light.

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Title Annotation:movie review
Author:Nesselson, Lisa
Article Type:Movie Review
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Dec 22, 2003
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