“See the world without leaving Beijing,” says the ad line for World Park, a real-life amusement complex in China’s capital city that has replicas of such world landmarks as Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower and the Pyramids.
In Jia Zhangke‘s richly textured and colorfully realized “The World,” Tao is a pretty dancer who has come to Beijing from her small town to be a star, and takes a job at the park, putting in long hours serving tea as a Japanese geisha, prancing in a sari in front of the Taj Mahal or walking like an Egyptian.
In his four films, Jia — who is from a distant corner of China and has become a spokesman of a generation (he is 35), has explored the downside of his country’s embracing of globalization, and the influence of Western capitalism and ideals that come with it. What makes his films so interesting is that while he is certainly mistrustful of these changes, he’s not advocating that China go back to its Chairman Mao straitjacket, either.
Read the Boston Globe review of The World.