Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Suzhou he

Years ago I was flipping through channels on the TV and stumbled across this scene of a Chinese girl in the rain with this look of complete loss on her face. I watched the rest of the movie which was only about three more minutes, but this image was stuck in my head and I couldn't shake it.

The movie ended and I was wondering if they were going to show it again, as some stations do, but I could never find it on again. By this point I had forgotten how to spell the name of the movie since it was in Chinese, but I knew I had to see the rest of it.

The next day at work I was still inspired, so on my lunch break I did this sketch of three figures standing in the rain. I never finished the background because I thought that I would rent the movie and find something in it to inspire me as to what I should put there.

I remember over the years searching foreign sections of video stores hoping that I would stumble across it and be able to remember the title. But finding a video store in America that had a well stocked foreign movie section would be like finding a race horse wearing a dress driving a car next to you on your morning commute.

After a while I forgot about it, and then one day I was going through some old papers and found the sketch that I had made. I remembered the movie and the idea was still fresh in my mind so I decided to just draw in a background.

But since it reminded me of the movie I went to the internet and searched for hours until I finally rediscovered what the name of the movie was, Suzhou he, or Suzhou River. I put it in my Netflix queue and I just watched it last night.

The imagery in it is awesome and has inspired me. It's shot in a handheld first person view that at first drove my eyes crazy but it settled down after a bit. Basically it's a type of love story told by a videographer who we never see, about the loss of love and the search to find it again.

But it's more than a love story. It shows the complex interactions between people with alienated overtones from the narrator. It almost seems like we are finding out who the videographer is by watching him tell this story, and that the real story is about him, but only we, the audience, know about it.

So now after watching the movie I realize that the background that I drew doesn't have the feeling that I want, but I like it anyway. So I think that I will paint two versions of it. But I will have to do some new figure sketches so that they don't look the same. There's enough inspiration in this movie for a dozen paintings, the only problem now is that I'm going to have to buy the DVD.

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