Shot in 1997 and premiered at Documenta XI in 2002, An Estranged Paradise displays many of Yang's signature motifs — crisp black-and-white 35mm cinematography, storylines that blur contemporaneity with traditional stylistics, homages to/revisions of genre cinema akin to the early work of his influences Jean-Luc Godard and Jim Jarmusch — while also reflecting his early studies as a painter, notably in a prologue that muses on the traditional methods and subjectivity of Chinese landscape painting. Set in the city of Hangzhou (where Yang had studied at the China Academy of Fine Art), the film takes as its focal point a restless young man, Zhu Zi, following him as he aimlessly wanders through the city. Through a series of distinct vignettes, Yang depicts Zhu Zi's inability to find comfort in friends, lovers or environment as a reflection of the existential difficulty of China's "nameless generation," cast adrift during the rapid changes at the turn of the millennium.
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Have you watched An Estranged Paradise yet? What did you think about it?