Transmigration (a.k.a Samsara)

(Lunhui, 1988)
Together with The Black Cannon Incident (1985) and Dislocation (1986), this film belongs to Huang Jianxin’s first urban trilogy. Adapted from a Wang Shuo novel, the film concerns disillusioned youth in a post-socialist China that is undergoing rapid cultural and economic change. The protagonist, Shiba (played by Lei Han), is alienated from the past yet disaffected about the present. The search for a self-identity involves a painful process of self-exploration and denial. To outsiders, Shiba is the beneficiary of a revolutionary elite family and a successful entrepreneur. From his perspective, however, his dead parents’ background is no longer meaningful, and his illegal business brings him money but also threats. The question of his self-identity also figures in the relationship between Shiba and a female dance student (played by Tan Xiaoyan). Shiba is hardly an ideal man to the young woman, but she is attracted to his anti-heroic persona.
Their marriage is short-lived as Shiba fails to find a place in proper society and wallows in cynicism. The film uses colour to suggest his moments of psychological confusion. Shiba paints the walls of his house red to indicate his love towards the woman and then black as disillusion overwhelms him.
A compelling mise-en-scène at the end of the film finishes the failed soul-searching journey. Shiba adjusts a lamp to project his shadow on the black wall. With two fists rising up from a lean masculine body, his silhouette appears larger than life. After a series of shots/reverse shots of Shiba and the moon, he jumps over the rail and plummets into the darkness. The death of the man, as the subtitles indicate, is followed by the birth of his son—hence the transmigration of the soul.
Kuoshu, Harry H. (1997). ‘Beyond the Yellow Earth: The Postsocialist City as a Cinematic Space of Anxiety’. American Journal of Chinese Studies 4.1 (April): 50–72.
Pickowicz, Paul (1994). ‘Huang Jianxin and the Notion of Postsocialism’. In Nick Browne, Paul G.Pickowicz, Vivian Sobchack and Esther Yau (eds), New Chinese Cinemas. New York: Cambridge University Press: 57–87.
Wang, Yuejin (1991). ‘The Rhetoric of Mirror, Shadow, and Moon: Samsara and the Problem of Representation of Self in China’. East-West Film Journal 5.2:69–92.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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  • Transmigration of the soul — (sometimes given simply as Transmigration) is similar and foreign in some ways to the philosophy of reincarnation. The idea of transmigration of soul comes from the ancient Greeks. In Transmigration after death, the soul or, shade of a living… …   Wikipedia

  • Samsâra — Saṃsāra Religions Védisme Brahmanisme Hindouisme Ajîvika Jaïnisme …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Saṃsāra — Samsara or IAST|saṃsāra (Sanskrit: ; Tibetan: khor wa ; Mongolian: orchilong ) refers to the cycle of reincarnation or rebirth in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and other related religions.According to these religions, one s karmic account… …   Wikipedia

  • transmigration — [ trɑ̃smigrasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1519; « migration » v. 1190; lat. transmigratio ♦ Relig. Passage (d une âme) d un corps dans un autre. Croyance dans la transmigration successive des âmes. ⇒ métempsycose. « Enfin, Tsing Chüng ayant complété ses… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Transmigration des ames — Transmigration des âmes La transmigration des âmes est, généralement après la mort, le passage d une âme d un corps dans un autre corps, ou, de façon moins stricte, le passage de certains éléments de l âme ou du corps dans de nouvelles formes d… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • samsara — ● samsara nom masculin (mot sanskrit) Dans l hindouisme et le bouddhisme, cycle de la vie, de la mort et de la renaissance. samsâra [sɑ̃saʀa] n. m. invar. ÉTYM. Mil. XXe (in Larousse, 1964); mot sanskrit. ❖ ♦ Didact. Transmigration des êtres,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Saṃsāra (Buddhism) — IAST|Saṃsāra, the Sanskrit and Pāli term for continuous movement or continuous flowing refers in Buddhism to the concept of a cycle of birth (jāti) and consequent decay and death (IAST|jarāmaraṇa), in which all beings in the universe participate… …   Wikipedia

  • Saṃsāra — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Samsara (homonymie). Le saṃsāra (संसार terme sanskrit signifiant « ensemble de ce qui circule », d où « transmigration » ; en tibétain khor ba, ou Khorwa འཁོར་བ། ) signifie… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Transmigration des âmes — La transmigration des âmes est, généralement après la mort, le passage supposé d une âme d un corps dans un autre corps, ou, de façon moins stricte, le passage de certains éléments de l âme ou du corps dans de nouvelles formes d existence.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • NIRVANA ET SAMSARA — Le mot nirv ユa désigne la cessation de la transmigration ou succession indéfinie des existences que les Indiens appellent sa ュs ra . Il est surtout utilisé dans le bouddhisme où il possède un sens très particulier, la conception du salut étant… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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