Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue is a documentary that is currently being shown for the virtual East Asia Film Festival Ireland. The film chronicles the growth of China over the course of 70 years. Director Zhangke Jia utilises the people of China to tell the tale of the growth of China through their own lives.
Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue is a fascinating film dealing with the heart of a country and it was a treat to learn so much about China. Something that became painfully obvious halfway through the film is that I didn’t know much if anything about the heart China.
Its people, their ideologies, their day to day lives and this film changed that. I became invested in each story being told. There were two that were particularly engaging. Yua Hua and his journey trying to see the world and how writing stories helped him reach that goal. He explained how he earned money that feels like a pittance now but made him feel like a king when he was a young man.
Building on oceans of history
The best section came with Liang Hong a woman with a moving a heartbreaking past. To go into that would spoil its potency but suffice to say is my favourite section of the film. Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue is also a beautifully shot film. When we see the cornfields and the mountains the colours pop in the film and it was stunning to take in.
Problems with the film were that due to this being all about the culture of China some of the important elements of their culture, topics they would understand was completely lost on me. Also the film’s score wasn’t anything particularly memorable but it didn’t have to be with such a strong narrative as the spine of the film.
High praise should be thrown at director Zhangke Jia who’s interspersing of the lives of individual Chinese citizens with the changes in China was expertly handled. Seeing the Chinese provinces throughout the various decades is a nice touch and reminded me of time when I saw my own home throughout the years.
It’s the first time I’ve seen his work but I was impressed with what I saw here and would definitely check out any of his other films.
For anyone looking to learn more about China and its vast oceans of history Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue is a must-watch.
Stay tuned to Scannain for more on the East Asia Film Festival and let us know how you’re getting on.