Mountains May Depart
The new film from Chinese master Jia Zhang-ke (A Touch of Sin) jumps from the recent past to the speculative near-future as it examines how China’s economic boom has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love.
At once an intimate drama and a decades-spanning epic that leaps from the recent past to the present to the speculative near-future, the new film is an intensely moving study of how China’s economic boom — and the culture of materialism it has spawned — has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love.
Mountains May Depart opens in 1999 to the strains of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West,” and it’s to the West that small-town dance instructor Shen Tao (Zhao Tao) looks when she marries the slick entrepreneur Zhang (Zhang Yi) and soon gives birth to a son, whom Zhang christens Dollar. The chasm between the family’s origins and their new life of Western-style wealth grows ever wider as the film leaps ahead to 2014 and finally to 2025, when Dollar is living in Australia and struggling to relearn the mother tongue with the help of an attractive, older college professor (Sylvia Chang), who embodies the culture, life, and love he has never truly known.
Shooting each of the film’s three time periods in a different aspect ratio, Jia creates a prescient chronicle of his country’s path to the future. Lyrical, moving, and dazzlingly ambitious, Mountains May Depart is one of the year’s most important films.
About the artist
JIA ZHANGKE FILMMAKER, MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART Jia Zhangke was born in Fenyang, Shanxi Province, China, and studied at the Beijing Film Academy. He made his directorial debut with the feature Xiao Wu ('97). His subsequent films have all screened at the Festival, including the documentaries Dong ('06), Useless ('07), and I Wish I Knew ('10), and the features Platform ('00), Unknown Pleasures ('02), The World ('04), Still Life ('06), 24 City ('08), and A Touch of Sin ('13). Mountains May Depart ('15) is his latest film.