|Mang shan 2007 China Blind Mountain|
China is a vast expanse and this film's cinematography captures that space wonderfully. Bai Xuemei is so far up in the mountains it is simply too far for her to run to safety.
Lu Huang who plays Bai Xuemei is the only professional actor in the film. The rest of the cast, from the shopkeeper to the Village Chief, are actual villagers. When the police arrive to make a rescue and the whole village gangs up on them demanding the girl repay the 7,000 they paid for her if she is to return home, it rings with a frightening authenticity. I watched this film feeling that with 5 minutes left to go she would be rescued despite everything suggesting otherwise.
It's not that kind of film. Blind Mountain is an essay on the collision of traditional and contemporary Chinese culture. It's not pedantic, nor is it belittling to the realities of the culture at its source, but it's hard not to see it that way, especially through twentieth-century, western eyes. The film does a remarkable job of showing that it's not a matter of simply enforcing contemporary law. It's much deeper and more difficult than that.
Summary: Blind Mountain follows young woman, Bai Xuemei, in the early 1990s who recently graduated from college and attempts to find work to help pay for her brother's education. In the process, she is drugged, kidnapped and sold as a bride to a villager in the Qinling Mountains of China's Shaanxi province. Trapped in the fiercely traditional town, the young woman finds that her avenues of escape are all blocked. As she searches for allies, including a young boy, a school teacher and a mailman, she suffers from being raped by her "husband" and continued beatings at the hands of the villagers, her husband, and her husbands' parents.
Like Li's previous film, Blind Shaft, which dealt with the notoriously dangerous mining industry, Blind Mountain turns a sharply critical eye towards another one of China's continuing social problems, this time the illegal sex slave trade.