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LIFE and MARRIAGE

梁碧波纪录片名人工作坊 央视网 2012年01月31日 15:09 A-A+ 二维码
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It was in January, 1997 when I initially came up with the idea of shooting a documentary film depicting Chinese peasants’ life. At that time, I was at FIPA(Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels) in Biarritz, France. On FIPA, there I found few films about China and people knew little about this country as well as its people. It made me feel there was necessity to introduce more about China to the outside world so as to do my bit for mutual understanding between different culture.

In China, most of the present population, about 800 million people, are rural population. Since I have fairly long living experience in countryside and graduated from an agricultural sciences Institute, the Chinese rural family life appears familiar to me.

In the agricultural society of China in the past 2,000 years, the custom of marriage followed strictly six formal rituals: marriage proposal, negotiation, engagement, ritual for obtaining the birth-date of the engaged to confirm the marital relationship, fortune-telling for the best wedding date, and finally wedding ceremony. Each of these rituals would offer a chance for lavish feasting and betrothal-gift bargaining. This age-old practice has been observed in some rural areas in China up till even the present day.
Sociologists in China have long noted that in such a practice, marriage is in essence an inter-family transaction in which the young ones concerned have no say a manifestation of squander, haggle and hypocrisy, everything except love.

Once back from France in Feburary,1997 I began searching for a shooting subject matter. A friend of mine by chance mentioned that I could possibly find some marriage story 700 kilometers away from Chengdu where I’m living. It is a village called Dagao, which locates on the top of Qinling Mountain which lies at the edge of Tibet and Sichuan province. There we found  such a practice in two marriage cases. One involving a bride to settle down in her groom's family, while the other, a man in his bride’s...

Marriage plays an important role in rural family life. Thus I planned to have a try.  After a whole day’s driving and another day’s mountain climbing, I reached the remote Dagao village and lived there for two days. As soon as I finished the short visit and came back home, I met with Professor Li Dongshan who is a sociologist in Sichuan Sociological Sciences Institute, having researched China’s rural family life for as long as 15 years. My shooting conception immediately met his approval. Afterwards,  Professor Li kept introducing a whole bunch of relating expertise for me to refer to.

MARRIAGE’s shooting period lasted from February, 1997 to the same month in 1998.Which means from marriage proposal to the wedding day. The shooting team only included three persons: the sound-recorder, the director assistant and me, the director. We three went into the remote mountain for nine times during the year. For the village was high above the mountain, we had to pull our car at the foot of the mountain then carry our shooting equipment onto destination by ourselves.

When we first arrived on Dagao Village, the villagers refused to cooperate with us. Some of the villagers even figured we should pay them money for shooting there. Under this situation, we decided never to flinch from difficulties and the only outbreak was to befriend all the locals. Then we took actions. We made Jiaozi, kind of dumpling, and sent every local family a bowl of it. Surprisingly, each family answered by inviting us for a dinner. After all, they were such frank nature. Once we heard a villager got sick, we would visit the sick and send them nutriment and money for relieve. Everytime I came back from Chengdu I used to take along some fish medicine for my peasant friends. As time went by, we became close friends and we were took as the honorable villagers. It made us have a smooth and happy working environment. Of course, the natural environment also left us a deep impression. In winter, the air temperature could drop under 5 Celsius degree under zero. In summer, fleas and mosquitoes ran rampant, so we resorted to insecticide which left fleas and mosquitoes alive but dizzied us.

In shooting MARRIAGE, I felt how to make choices was the most complex problem. The choices included scenes, plots, persons, places, techniques, and so on. I chose direct cinema as the way to shoot MARRIAGE. It meant we should never direct, interfere, or organize the details and just let it develop by itself. We held the principle that we would never ask for the villagers to perform for the film. In order not to affect the sense of reality, we brought with us six megaphones.. For the same reason, we have not used lighting and other artificial supplementary means. Although these made the shooting much more difficult, we insisted on doing so as to maintain the sense of reality.

After a whole year passed, I felt my soul got purified on the simple field secluded from rest of the world. During that period of time, every time I backed the bustling streets in Chengdu, I could hardly refrain from longing for the innocence far in the mountain. Every time I arrived on the village, the warm welcome and frank face refreshed me. For all of this, I thank MARRIAGE.

The last part of the work was postproduction which lasted for four months beginning from January,1999. The reason why I began this work one year’s later was I made use of the period reading reference and learning more academically, which helped me a lot in terms of understanding the specific culture background. Undoubtedly, the academic experience calculation of the year ruled significantly in my later work MARRIAGE.

The process of shooing the film was filled with hardships beyond our imagination. However we overcame them. In Dagao Village, the unique culture has been formed over thousands of years, in which the rules of social behavior has taken root in the field and its people acquiesce in them. In fact, in other part of China, especially rural areas, things are the same. Their insistence on living is exactly the microcosm of the thriving Chinese nationality. In MARRIAGE, some people may take much notice of those bargaining and clamorous scenes  which could make one think people’s inner world and even things like marriage are profaned roughly. However, as insight gained into that field, you will realize through the appearance the essence. In that field, harmony reached between people and nature is perfect, which has been longing for by us during the long history.                                               

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