The World

Suggesting at different moments a backstage musical, a failed love story, a surreal comedy, and even a cartoon fantasy, this beautiful, corrosive, visionary masterpiece by Jia Zhang-ke (2004) is a frighteningly persuasive account of the current state of the planet. Set in an eerie Beijing theme park—a kind of Chinese Las Vegas, with scaled-down duplicates of the most famous global landmarks—it follows a bunch of workers as they labor, carouse, couple, and uncouple, but it's really about propping up extravagant illusions through alienated labor. Though Jia is one of the most respected directors in mainland China, this film was his first to get an official release there. In Mandarin and Shanxi dialect with subtitles. 139 min.

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