Pigs Fly: Animal Farm Performed in China
March 10, 2003 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Pigs Fly. Orwell is in the house in downtown Beijing: a theatrical production of one of his most famous works opened last November. It escaped the censors -- actually getting the approval stamp in three days -- though it was altered somewhat by director Shang Chengjun. [more inside]
posted by namespan (5 comments total)
"The novel stresses what pigs did as the ruling class. What I wanted to stress was not the ruling class, but the horses, the sheep, and the chickens, the animals that represent the masses and their attitudes. I wanted to criticize them for being selfish, indifferent, ignorant, fatuous, and lazy" (from the first article)

'Shang insisted that his script isn't intended as a comment on Chinese politics, but rather a warning against complacency and a universal appeal to the public to stay alert to social wrongs.
"This kind of state of mind, Europeans, Americans all have," he said. "You submit to pressure and give up your rights. . . . You have the right to vote, but you don't use it."
Audiences, however, don't seem to understand that theme -- or get any message at all.' (from the second article)

Nevertheless, the articles both report that there's some striking similarities to Chinese history. Perhaps it slipped by the censors -- or perhaps the authorities understood how common it is for people to miss things or not pay attention.

[via, of all things, a clipped article sent to me from Utah's Daily Herald.]
posted by namespan at 4:02 PM on March 10, 2003

One more thing: if you've seen any of director Zhang Yimou's excellent films, you know that this is not the only case of critical art out there (besides doing that job, To Live is one of the best films I have ever seen).
posted by namespan at 4:07 PM on March 10, 2003

Wow, what a lineup. But don't worry about it. Look at me. Hey hey hey.
posted by Hankins at 5:34 PM on March 10, 2003

<sarcasm>Yes, shocking that Shang gutted the story of its main criticism against totalitarian governements and it got by the censors...</sarcasm>
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:46 AM on March 11, 2003

If you read both of the articles all the way through, it would seem that it wasn't "gutted" as such. See the comments of the computer programmer in the first article, and the statements of the remarkable similarities to Chinese history to the actions of the pigs.

What I'm wondering is if the censors were smart enough they actually realized Shang's message -- for most people, paying attention to public affairs is waaay too taxing -- and decided that allegory was probably too subtle for most people anyway.

I have my doubts that most U.S. citizens would recognize allegorical tellings of our history.
posted by namespan at 11:38 AM on March 11, 2003

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