An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

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swo17
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#26 Post by swo17 » Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:19 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:16 pm
Hey guys, what do you call me on my couch watching this movie
A hippopotamus grazing?

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hearthesilence
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#27 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:42 pm

zedz wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:21 pm
"the anger and pessimism from Hu Bo towards the realities around him felt much more nihilistic than Tarr's response, and from there I wondered if personal reasons (or demons) played a part - that is, the context may be political, but the visceral reaction may be more rooted in his private struggles."

These seem to be very clearly readings coloured by the death of the filmmaker, and not based on the actual work itself. The former, for the reasons I gave above...
You're pointing out something that I hoped was clear in what I was saying before - that I was already wary of how his death would color one's reading of the film. Thinking how the film may or may not be tied to his personal life isn’t the same as assuming the film is autobiographical. This ties in with this other point:
In the case of Hu Bo, we have one (very complex) film, and the fact of his suicide (does anybody commenting here actually know anything else about the director?), so I feel like it's a completely different matter to leap to conclusions like: this film portrays contemporary Chinese society as bleak because the director was suicidal...
You argued that you didn't believe the film was that nihilistic. Obviously I disagree, but if the argument is that any belief in the film's bleakness is derived from knowing that the director committed suicide, it's wrong and impossible to reason with. It suggests that had I seen the film without knowing anything about the filmmaker, it would've seemed far more hopeful, and it's wrong to assume that as well.

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BenoitRouilly
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#28 Post by BenoitRouilly » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:02 am

SpoilerShow
Cde. wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:17 pm
Yu Cheng's friend immediately kills himself upon learning that his wife is sleeping with his friend. To me, this is not a natural response to upsetting news - I would expect at least some expression of anger initially. That connotes that the character had already almost given up.
At the end, there's another suicide, again coming as a surprise, from a character who had not in any way seemed suicidal.
The man killing himself at the beguinning of the film is YU Cheng's BEST friend. So in this adulterous affair, he loses both his wife and his best friend. Not that it justifies suicide, but it portrays a little more precisely his state of mind.

WEI Bu's best friend, who commits suicide at the end of the film, already pretended to kill himself at the beguinning of the film when he shows Bu he stole a gun from his father to confront Shuai the school bully. He puts the gun against his temple and Bu (the main character, if there is any, and voice of the film) stops him because he's scared.

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BenoitRouilly
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#29 Post by BenoitRouilly » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:15 am

zedz wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:24 pm
[..] (does anybody commenting here actually know anything else about the director?) [..]

EDIT: Just did some quick research, and it appears that Hu's suicide was due to specific professional frustrations (conflicts with his producers), not because he was overcome by the parlous state of the world. So much for that theory.
HU Bo left us 2 books of short stories : Bullfrog and Huge Crack in 2017. The latter of which inspired a longer form and he turned it into the film we know. Plus 3 short films, which I haven't seen.

Even this version of an explanation of his suicide is preposterous. There must have been more than just a work issue. People who commit suicide are sick, they are depressed for many reasons, but mainly because of a chemical imbalance in the brains that makes everything around them seem hopeless and unbearable...

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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#30 Post by Zepfanman » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:43 pm


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diamonds
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#31 Post by diamonds » Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:48 pm

The recent Artforum piece on this film mentioned that Hu Bo blogged about his conflicts with producers, which prompted me to look around for anything he wrote. A quick search yielded nothing substantial except this poorly translated article that contains a pretty detailed account of Hu Bo's struggle to get the film made, anecdotes about his directing style, quotes from conversations with friends, and several of his blog posts/writings. It's a frustrating read, nearly illegible at times (how many different ways can they mistranslate the title?), but I felt it might be worth posting since info about his final months has otherwise been pretty vague.

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swo17
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#32 Post by swo17 » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:24 pm

Ha, they literally translate it 15 different ways:

Sit on the Elephants
The Elephant
Sit on the Elephant Floor
Sitting on the Elephant Floor
Elegant Elephant
The Elephant That Was Sitting on the Floor
The Elephants Sit and Sit
Elephant
Sitting Elephants
Sitting on the Elephants
Earth Sitting on the Elephant
Sitting on the Elephant (then called 'Golden Fleece')
The Elephants Sit on the Ground
Eg and the Elephant
The Elephant Sitting on the Ground

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BenoitRouilly
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#33 Post by BenoitRouilly » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:03 pm

As of June 4th, An Elephant Sitting Still is out in France on DVD-BD via Capricci (French subtitles only)

There is a beautiful folding jacket with each of the 4 main characters pictured on each fold.

In the booklet :
Text introductions (all in French) by Béla Tarr, Wang Bing, Jacques Rancière, Pierre Rissient.
A full review by Alain Masson (published in Positif)
The eponymous short story by HU Bo (that was in the Press Kit)
An interview with HU Bo

Bonus :
Video Introduction of the film by Béla Tarr in Paris (11 min)
Video interview of Jacques Rancière (25min)
Short Film by HU Bo : Man in the Well (2017) 16 min

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tenia
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#34 Post by tenia » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:02 pm

I was however surprised they crammed the movie and the Bela Tarr intro on a BD-25, leading of course the movie to an abysmal video bitrate, and logical macroblocking every where.

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zedz
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#35 Post by zedz » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:55 pm

tenia wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:02 pm
I was however surprised they crammed the movie and the Bela Tarr intro on a BD-25, leading of course the movie to an abysmal video bitrate, and logical macroblocking every where.
There were occasional digital artefacts in the DCP as well. I imagine this film was very cheaply made for something so ambitious.

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tenia
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#36 Post by tenia » Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:47 am

That's what the label answered me ("they did BD-50 and BD-25 compression tests, and there were only negligible differences, since most of the - real - visual limits are baked in the source"). However, it is then surprising that the blockiness is pretty much correlated to the sections with the lowest video bitrates (sometimes down to 7 Mbps) while the brightest sections have higher bitrates and no macroblocking.

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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#37 Post by WmS » Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:25 pm

zedz wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:55 pm
I imagine this film was very cheaply made for something so ambitious.
This interview with the cinematographer says it was shot on an Arri Alexa, so at some point back in the chain it had to look pretty good:

https://filmmakermagazine.com/107340-at ... ing-still/

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zedz
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#38 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:49 pm

My recollection is that there were several instances of macroblocking, and even pixellation / digital noise throughout the film, generally on motion (e.g. in long sequence shots that follow characters through buildings, in and out of darkness).

And the film looks more than "pretty good" - it's just that sometimes you have to put up with technical flaws when watching great films.

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tenia
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#39 Post by tenia » Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:18 pm

On the BD, pretty much every dark shot has very noticeable compression issues. Here are some exemples :
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg

As I wrote, while I can understand native limitations, it's easy to think this is linked to the disc encode itself since these shots all have extremely low video bitrates, usually 6-8 Mbps, which is probably the lowest video bitrates I've seen for a live movie in Full HD. It's made even easier by brighter shots having (logically) higher bitrates and no remotely close blockiness :
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg
http://retro-hd.com/uploads/img/test/ga ... still.jpeg

Nevertheless, in any case, it's batshit crazy to cram 4 hours of Full HD 1.77 video on a BD-25. AVB is 11.5 Mbps, amongst the lowest ever AVB on the format. Maybe part of the result is already baked in the source, but it sure doesn't help to constrain oneself furthermore by such a limiting choice.

It doesn't prevent the movie "looking good" as a whole though (I didn't like the movie that much as a whole, though), but I have a hard time forgiving what seems like a beginner's choice (though I'm quite certain it's dictated by costs - but it's a 3h52 movie ! what do you expect having to do to handle it on BD ?)

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andyli
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#40 Post by andyli » Thu Jun 20, 2019 2:14 am

The film is getting a Taiwanese blu-ray release today, on a BD50, with English subtitle and all.

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BenoitRouilly
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#41 Post by BenoitRouilly » Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:46 am

I heard (I believe from an interview of the actor Zhang Yu playing Cheng) that Hu Bo wanted a grey city location with a grey sky, but upon shooting the weather was too sunny. So I think they darkened the picture in post-prod. Would that alter the quality of the final images?

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tenia
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#42 Post by tenia » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:01 am

It wouldn't introduce compression issues anyhow.

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BenoitRouilly
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#43 Post by BenoitRouilly » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:59 am

You're saying the issues are from the compression stage when the film is put on disc? OK.

So Taiwan is doing a better job than Capricci? Shame on France!
Is the box set (bonus) as nice though?

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tenia
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#44 Post by tenia » Thu Jun 20, 2019 12:13 pm

BenoitRouilly wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:59 am
You're saying the issues are from the compression stage when the film is put on disc? OK. So Taiwan is doing a better job than Capricci? Shame on France!
Not having seen the movie in theater, I can't precisely state what is coming from the DCP itself and what is down to having an abysmally low video bitrate, but it seems consistent to imagine a 7 Mbps video bitrate would yield significant macroblocking on a live 1.77 HD movie. However, it will be interesting to compare what issues a possibly double bitrate eliminate.
BenoitRouilly wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:59 am
Is the box set (bonus) as nice though?
It is ! There is Hu Bo's short Man in the Well, a 10 min Bela Tarr introduction (he seems to have met - known ? - Hu Bo), a critical analysis by a French critic, and a booklet with Hu Bo's original short story and some additionnal writings about the movie. It's a nice digipack too, though it's DVD-sized and not BD-sized.

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BenoitRouilly
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#45 Post by BenoitRouilly » Thu Jun 20, 2019 12:19 pm

tenia wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 12:13 pm
a 10 min Bela Tarr introduction (he seems to have met - known ? - Hu Bo)
Indeed. Tarr was doing a workshop at the Xining FIRST festival in 2016, where HU Bo developped his scenario for this film and Tarr was his mentor.

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Aunt Peg
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#46 Post by Aunt Peg » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:56 am

Didn't know where else to post this but the film has been released in Taiwan on Blu Ray with English subtitles:

https://www.yesasia.com/global/an-eleph ... /info.html

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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#47 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:19 pm

You can take this for what it's worth, but a poster on the Blu-ray.com forums claims to have inside info on a "stunning release" that might be on the way from an unnamed publisher. The poster is apparently based in the UK, but there's already a DVD-only release there so who knows. The Taiwanese edition is said to be pretty good and also has an English-subtitled version of Man in the Well, but shares the French release's lack of lossless audio.

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htom
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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#48 Post by htom » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:42 am

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:19 pm
You can take this for what it's worth, but a poster on the Blu-ray.com forums claims to have inside info on a "stunning release" that might be on the way from an unnamed publisher. The poster is apparently based in the UK, but there's already a DVD-only release there so who knows. The Taiwanese edition is said to be pretty good and also has an English-subtitled version of Man in the Well, but shares the French release's lack of lossless audio.
It's hard to be sure about much for this release as far as the audio is concerned. YesAsia lists both DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD tracks, and the Blu-Ray.com listing indicates only Dolby Digital. The back cover on that site indicates Dolby TrueHD 5.1 but only features the Dolby Digital logo.

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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#49 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:54 am

People who have the disc have confirmed that it's DD (448kbps) only.

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Re: An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

#50 Post by Timec » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:21 am

According to their website, Kimstim will be releasing the Blu-ray in R1 on Dec. 10.

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