[Marxism] Wang Bing: cinematic bard of the Chinese working-class and peasantry | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 10 13:41:40 MDT 2013

Richard Estes comment on "West of the Tracks":

I watched the first two of these at the PFA back in 2004, 2005, sometime 
around then, and saw the last one, "Rails" at the SF Art Institute, or 
some such place, a year and a half later.  I drove quite a distance to 
see them because I was highly motivated to do so, I sensed that there 
was something unique and compelling about them from the program guide 
description (somewhere here, there is an insight about how one of the 
only remaining places for the cinematic presentation of working class 
life is within the academically supported screening of films at 
universities art schools and art museums).

Anyway, your characterization of them as something Gray or Blake might 
have done with a video camara in the 18th Century is apt.  Given his 
vivid characterization of Manchester in the 1840s, Engels might have 
done the same.  In "Rust", the beginning and ending sequences of the 
goods train entering and exiting the factories symbolizes our entry and 
exit into an industrial world that has been almost completely 
dismantled, along with the social and culture life associated with it. 
Factory workers move through abandoned parts of the complex to work in 
those areas still open for production, and the scenes of these people at 
work are some of the greatest visual representations of industrial labor 
ever achieved. Wang Bing poignantly presents the social and cultural 
aspects of the closure of the complex in the second part, "Remnants", as 
the loss of worker housing results in the disintegration of decades of 
social relationships.  There may be no agit-prop here, but Michael Moore 
has never come close to attaining the artistic and political impact of 
these films.  I hesitate to say that something is the best, or essential 
or a masterpiece, but this is probably the most compelling work that I 
have seen in the last 15 years, since I had the opportunity to see 
"Berlin Alexanderplatz", which is obviously very different.  But the 
social insight and the identification with the everyday life and 
emotional experiences of people who have been marginalized is a thread 
that runs between them.


Also this:

Coincidentally, WEST OF THE TRACKS will be playing MoMA over two days 
later this month: 
http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/film_screenings/18241 & 

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