Shanghai Dreams

The fact that China’s film bureau is letting director Wang Xiaoshuai make what sounds like a true-to-life down and dirty look at the grim life of transplanted peasants in Guizhou strikes me as very good news. I loved Wang’s Beijing Bicycle (which wasn’t allowed to be shown in China, if I remember), and Shanghai Dreams sounds far grittier and more upsetting. If they actually allow it to be shown in China, without pulling out (pardon that phrase) the way they did with Vagina Monologues, I’ll be impressed.

Read the article to see what Wang went through to get this film made. He sounds like quite a person.

The Discussion: 14 Comments

Interestingly, the DVD of Beijing Bicycle was readily available in Beijing the year it won at Cannes (?) and was banned in China. That’s where I bought my copy!

May 17, 2005 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

In this case (and many other cases), “not being allowed to be shown in China” = “readily available in DVD in China”

And besides, it’d have a much better international marketing angle if it were “Banned in China!”

May 17, 2005 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

Censorship is one decidedly major issue in developing or having democracy. In China work needs to be done. In the U.S. Bush, the illegitimate offspring of the democratic forces there, is backing US away from our freedoms and democracy.

Here is a decidedly progressive internet tools, Tor. See the article in of May 17, 2005 entitled “Tor Torches Online Tracking.” Free. It could be the real deal to message with relative freedom when you have nasty governments looking for every way to blinder and supress, what should I say, disruptive ideas or unfortunate ideas or from the censor’s point of paranoid view, down right subversive, like rock and roll or if you are talking to some in the Red states evolution.

Perhaps some of our friends around the world would like Tor and put it to good use.

May 18, 2005 @ 12:43 am | Comment


ABC and NBC news didn’t show it last night, but these are some good stuffs from yesterday. Galloway turned the table and bomblasted the senate hearing. It was beautiful and poignant!!!!

May 18, 2005 @ 11:19 am | Comment

If you want to see a good Chinese film set in the gritty underbelly of Shanghai, check out “Suzhou He” (“Suzhou River”) of about 1999. Sort of a Shanghai film noir “Vertigo”.

Anothern parallel: it, too, was not allowed to be shown, but was readily available on the street (where I bought my copy).

May 18, 2005 @ 11:23 am | Comment

Wayne, just about everything’s banned in China (if it’s any good), so I don’t see any positive marketing benefit from calling out that a movie is banned in China.

JR, thanks for the links. Do you know how to use It’s real easy, and will keep long links from throwing off the comments formatting. Thanks.

May 18, 2005 @ 11:32 am | Comment


Thank you. I will try that next time.

I remember seeing Beijing Bicycle long time ago, it doesn’t register in my mind now but what was so political incorrect or controversial about it that the CCP wanted to ban the movie?

May 18, 2005 @ 11:46 am | Comment

Charles Gibson reported the Afghan government now demands newsweek magazine for compensation for the riots. Wonder who is pulling the strings.

May 18, 2005 @ 11:55 am | Comment

There was nothing in Beijing Bicycle of any controversy that I could tell. It was sad (though funny at times) and moving, and made absolutely no political statements.

May 18, 2005 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

Hey Richard, how does one do Tiny URL? I’ve long needed to know this.

I think the only controversial thing about Beijing Bicycle is that it suggested that China’s modernization was not necessarily leading to better lives for common people. You could do bleak movies in China if they dealt with the past, the implication being that things are better now – Hibiscus Town, one of the first CR films that was approved by the Government, was pretty blunt about the excesses of the past, but the ending suggested that these things had been corrected and that the future would be brighter. Beijing Bicycle does none of that. It deals with disposable people with little or no power in contemporary society.

May 18, 2005 @ 12:21 pm | Comment

Other Lisa,

Did they ban “to live” also? I think its premises are similar to hibiscus town. The most shocking movie about the Cultural Revolution was the one that I saw in Taiwan, where the guy got raped in the farm camp.

May 18, 2005 @ 12:30 pm | Comment

Good observations, Lisa. I guess you can only show warm and fuzzy images of today’s China, CCTV-style, if you want to get past the censors.

Go to, paste the long url into the window and voila, it gives you a…tiny url.

May 18, 2005 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

Richard, thanks for the Tiny Info.

JR, which movie was that?

As for “To Live,” as I recall, it also does not end on an uplifting note. The protagonists lose everything but their lives. I think the film suggests that ordinary people are doomed to be exploited and abused by the powerful, that one form of domination will be replaced by another.

May 18, 2005 @ 4:50 pm | Comment


I don’t remember the name of the movie but it got Chin Han or Chin Chiang Lin in it.

May 18, 2005 @ 5:55 pm | Comment

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