Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kong Fuzi / Confucius

11.00 Cinema Arlecchino
Kong Fuzi / CONFUCIUS [not released in Finland] (Cina/1940) R.: Fei Mu. D.: 96'
Presenta Lorenzo Codelli
Mandarin version with Chinese and English subtitles on the print, e-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti.
Restored from the negatives and from some recovered fragments. Parts of the soundtrack are missing.
From: Hong Kong Film Archive.

Screened in the Movietone ratio. The fine quality of the cinematography could be appreciated in part of the footage, but the technical condition of the source material is highly variable.

I caught about half an hour from the end of this film. Many had been disappointed and left the cinema. But I was in an early cinema mode anyway, having seen Cento anni fà and Capellani shows, and I appreciated the strange tableau style of this film, the stern anti-realism, the assured mise-en-scène, the theatrical arrangement. There are interesting transitions, epic images, and theatrical recitations in this fascinating portrait of the great thinker. The famous Silver Rule is included: "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself".This is a story of great self-discipline against terrible adversity, understandably topical during the Japanese occupation. Bamboo stripes record crimes committed during 200 years of history. The old, exhausted Confucius meets his students as ghosts, teaching righteousness, harmony, tranquillity, and integrity, the lesson of sacrifice to serve humanity. As long as a noble spirit lingers, the Master's teaching will prevail through the ages. - Seeing this in Bologna, in a strange way I also thought about John Ford, his theme of sacrifice, and Young Mr. Lincoln made the year before, also with a sense of urgency about the human condition.

I am very grateful for this film, which I look forward to see in its entirety.

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