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《大象席地而坐》

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2019年03月13日

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The much-talked-about elephant in Hu Bo’s “An Elephant Sitting Still” never appears onscreen, but it isn’t an imaginary beast. The sedentary pachyderm is rumored to live in Manzhouli, a city in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China, some distance from the gray industrial city where the film’s characters struggle and suffer.

在胡波的電影《大象席地而坐》中,那頭備受關注的大象始終未出現,但它并非只是一頭想像出來的野獸。據說,這頭坐在地上一動不動的厚皮動物,生活在中國北方內蒙古自治區的滿洲里,距離影片中的人物掙扎、受苦的那座灰色工業城市尚有一段距離。

The elephant is a lure and a metaphor, a teasing reminder of a natural wonder and creaturely variety that is otherwise barely in evidence. This rigorously bleak, powerfully absorbing feature — nearly four hours long, shot in subdued colors and slow takes — posits a world from which nearly all fellow-feeling has been drained. Envy, mistrust, manipulation and blunt aggression govern human relations. Pleasure is scarce.

那頭大象是一種誘惑,也是一種隱喻,以挑逗的方式提醒著一個幾乎看不見的自然奇觀和動物多樣的存在。這部電影陰郁而又引人入勝,片長近四個小時,色彩柔和,鏡頭的運用舒緩,它設定了一個同情已被耗盡的世界。嫉妒、懷疑、操縱和粗暴的攻擊者支配著人與人之間的關系??鞓肥欠N稀缺物。

Taking place over a single day and following the overlapping, increasingly desperate itineraries of four people, “An Elephant Sitting Still” encompasses two suicides, several beatings, a shooting and the death of a dog. If anything, this summary undersells the misery. Those periodic eruptions of violence are like bubbles breaking the surface of a steadily simmering pot. Cruelty and alienation go all the way down.

《大象席地而坐》的故事發生在一天之內,它追隨著四個人相互之間存在交疊、越來越絕望的行程,里面有兩起自殺、幾場斗毆、一次槍擊和一條狗的死亡。其實,這樣總結低估了那種痛苦。那些定期發作的暴力,就像是一口不斷沸騰的鍋里掙破表面的水泡。殘酷和疏遠一直在延續。

Yu Cheng (Zhang Yu), a handsome, hollow-cheeked midlevel gangster, is having an affair with his best friend’s wife. The friend comes home and discovers the adulterous pair together, and jumps out the window to his death. Wei Bu (Peng Yuchang), a student at a second-rate high school, plots revenge against the bully who torments and humiliates him. (The bully happens to be Yu Cheng’s younger brother.) Their plan fails, but also succeeds in the worst possible way. Meanwhile, Wei Bu’s classmate Huang Ling (Wang Yuwen) is involved in a tawdry relationship with a school administrator. Wang Jin (Liu Congxi), a retired military officer, is being pressured to move into a retirement home by his upwardly mobile son and daughter-in-law.

于城(章宇飾)是一個英俊的、臉頰凹陷的黑社會大哥,與好朋友的妻子發生了婚外情。朋友回家發現了他們的奸情,于是跳窗自殺。韋布(彭昱暢飾)就讀一所很爛的高中,他計劃報復欺負他的人。(欺負人的恰好是于城的弟弟。)他們的計劃失敗了,但也可說是以最壞的方式取得了成功。與此同時,韋布的同學黃玲(王玉雯飾)與學校的一名行政人員有了曖昧關系。王金(李從喜飾)是一名退役軍官,被正在向更高社會階層流動的兒子和兒媳逼著搬進養老院。

Their paths cross and recross, though not in the magical-thinking, we’re-all-connected style of the multistranded narratives — “Babel” and “Crash,” for instance — that were especially fashionable in world cinema in the early and mid-2000s. Even as Hu’s suspenseful, surprising story draws the characters toward one another, his somber, careful compositions emphasize their isolation and the social conditions that make solitude a protective strategy.

他們的命運之路交叉再交叉,但并不是在奇幻思維中,而是我們所熟知的那種多向敘事風格——這在本世紀初和中期的世界電影里特別流行,比如《通天塔》(Babel)和《撞車》(Crash)。雖然胡波充滿懸疑和意外不斷的故事將人物引向彼此,但其陰郁、細致的構圖強調了他們的孤獨,強調了使孤獨成為一種保護策略的社會條件。

If there is occasional tenderness — between Wang Jin and his young granddaughter, or more tentatively between Wei Bu and Huang Ling — it seems fragile and fleeting, unlikely to survive brutal Darwinian reality. Everyone is expected to be selfish, suspicious, status-obsessed and mean, and most people live up to the expectation.

即使偶有溫柔——比如王金和小孫女之間,又或者韋布和黃玲之間——似乎也脆弱而短暫,不大可能在殘酷的達爾文現實中存活下來。自私、多疑、看重身份、刻薄是對每個人的期待,而絕大多數人都沒有辜負這個期待。

“An Elephant Sitting Still” shows the influence of Jia Zhangke, modern China’s cinematic laureate of disaffection and dislocation. (His new film, “Ash Is Purest White,” will open in North America soon.) But it also shows a restless and original visual sensibility. Unsparing as Hu’s anatomy of moral drift may be, there is something graceful in his sympathetic attention to lives defined almost entirely by disappointment and diminished hope. Unlike the titular elephant, the film never stops moving, and by the end, instead of feeling beaten down, the viewer is likely to feel moved as well.

《大象席地而坐》表現出了賈樟柯的影響,他是當代中國電影的杰出人物,作品充滿了不滿和錯位。(他的新作《江湖兒女》不久將在北美上映。)但它表現出了一種不安的、原始的視覺感受。雖然胡波對道德淪喪的剖析可能毫不留情,但他向生活所投注的同情目光,還是不無優雅之處,那是一種幾乎完全由失望及希望的幻滅所定義的生活。不同于片名里的那頭大象,這部電影從未停止運動,到最后,觀眾的感受不是頹喪,反而可能是感動。

But such catharsis is shadowed by the knowledge that this will be Hu’s only film — the ambitious and imperfect testament to a career that ended when the 29-year-old director took his life in 2017. It is, of course, a mistake to draw too literal a connection between that awful fact and the unhappiness onscreen, but it’s also hard to avoid the impression that this persuasive portrait of a society in crisis is also a deeply personal statement. An act of solemn, disciplined and passionate protest.

當你了解到這將是胡波唯一的一部電影,這種宣泄隨之變得黯然——這部雄心勃勃但并不完美的電影,是這位在2017年自己29歲時自盡的導演電影生涯終結的見證。把這個可怕的事實和銀幕上的不快樂聯系到一起當然是不對的,但也難以避免產生這種印象,即它是對一個處于危機中的社會所做的有說服力的刻畫,也是一份深刻的個人陳述。這是一種嚴正的、井然有序的、充滿激情的抗議。


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