Synopsis by Mark Deming
The political and social changes that swept China during the 1980s are reflected in the lives of a troupe of musicians in this drama from acclaimed Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke. In 1979, China is beginning to reinvent itself in the wake of the Cultural Revolution, and change is slowly but surely coming to Fenyang, a small town in the Shanxi province. The influences of the West (pop music, longer hair for men, television, privatization) and the adoption of more modern social conventions (birth control, co-habitation, the abandonment of the arranged marriage) begin to slowly manifest themselves in Fenyang, and two young people, Minliang (Wang Hong-wei) and Chang Jun (Liang Jing-dong), find their own lives beginning to change. Chang Jun becomes involved with Zhong Pin (Yang Tian-yi), and they decide to move in together, which is still against the law and earns them the enmity of their parents. Minliang, meanwhile, openly declares his affections to Ruijuan (Zhao Tao), who finds her own feelings about him carrying greater weight than her father's stern objections. The times also change for the musical group , as they shift from the state-sanctioned political material that had been their staple to Westernized pop music, but they find themselves in a no-man's-land, as there is little audience for either their old repertoire or their new material. Zhantai received its world premiere at the 2000 Venice Film Festival.
China, cultural-revolution, father, Maoism, peasant, traveling-show, troupe