Having previously watched another of Jia Zhangke’s film, Still Life, I was eager to see if The World has any message embedded in the film itself, that highlighted the state of China at that point of time. Personally, I think there was.
As apparent from Still Life, the lesser seen part of China was captured on film. Much opposite to the outsiders’ (in this case, anybody who is not a native Chinese) perceptions, China is not all about wealth and globalisation. The film explored and showed us the rural areas; areas that are not talked about much by the public.
The World also followed the same formula, but, presented it in a different manner. I feel Jia Zhangke wanted to express how he felt regarding the imbalance of wealth in China. It was either people being too rich or too poor. This great difference in wealth level throughout the nation could perhaps be a result of the rapid development of technology and other whatnots, that are rapidly transforming the country into one which is modern and spewing out endless chain of smoke (coming from the multi-corporational factories mostly). The too rich can afford to travel, fly anywhere in the world and enjoy a lavish life. However, the too poor – that’s where I think the film managed to shine.
The too poor were the workers at the theme park. Their lives a constant bore. A mundane cycle. Having to do the same thing over and over again, day in and day out. To them, the theme park IS their world. That’s all they can ever hope to see. And as much of a paradox it is, I feel Jia Zhangke was trying to bring across a message, which I will put in my own words:
“Maybe it’s okay to be poor. Maybe it’s okay to be unfortunate. Maybe it’s okay if others have it better than us. It’s how we live our lives, that’s what matters. The people around us, the place we go to everyday, the things we use – as long as it helps us to get by, that’s enough.”
Maybe that’s the message Jia Zhangke was trying to bring across, maybe it’s not. But as someone who yearns to travel all over the world, and constantly looking up cheap flight deals, this felt fitting.