Archive for November, 2016

Teenagers growing tails?

Black Hole is a place in space that gravity pulls strongly that light cannot reach and cannot get out of it. The gravity is so strong that matter has been in a tiny space. This happens when a star is dying. What is the Author trying to say with this title?Is the Author trying to warn teens from unprotective sex that can cause HIV/AIDS? The transmitted disease is called “The Bug.” Is it a metaphor to HIV/AIDS? I think it will be a good idea to check May 2014 convener’s post. 

“AAAAHH!” (Black Hole)

Posted by sv1046 on May 5, 2014 in 

Black Hole is a graphic novel by Charles Burns, which explores contagious disease in a radically different way, using uncomfortable and disturbing imagery to emphasize relationships between disease, alcohol & drugs, and teen culture. All characters in the graphic novel are teenagers and even the parental figures are marginalized. It is reminiscent of the 1960s subcultures with its allusions to David Bowie, hallucinogenic drugs, rampant sex, and an unknown sexually transmitted disease, which – after close analysis – seems to be a metonym for the HIV virus.

“The bug” that causes the disease has a different manifestation in each character. For example, Eliza grows a tail (which keeps growing back even after broken) and seems to keep transforming and desire solitude, therefore she gets dubbed the “Lizard Queen.” Chris starts shedding her skin and always being near, almost needing, water, which makes her represent a snake. Rob grows a lesion on his neck that looks like a second mouth with a second tongue and a second mind – or an alter-ego speaking his inner thoughts. These mutations are mostly animalistic, not unlike the deformities encountered in Animal’s World, and not unlike that same novel, the characters stricken by the disease start shifting out of the identity of “human.” Even though the manifestation of the disease seems to be contingent upon the individuals’ characteristics (personalities?), the people develop a new sense of identity as the diseased. Chris becomes a snake that sheds its skin since she is uncomfortable with her own identity, while Eliza’s bodily transformations and changes in attitude turn her into a chameleon-like being. A lot like many other books we’ve read, disease forms another layer of identity and creates community: people start hanging out in the forest (#chilling). They live in seclusion because they are ashamed of who they are and sometimes compensate for/avenge their condition by infecting others, because of jealousy or as a punishment, like Dave spitting on a bully in the fast-food store: ”See how easy that was? That’s all it takes… A little spit. Some saliva… And now you’re one of us.” Morality comes into question in similar ways as it does in Journal of the Plague Year.

However, unlike our previous books, the teen plague does not seem to be a catalyst for the narrative: it does not have a known cause, no one is grappling with its consequences or even questioning its symptoms; the disease plays a different role. One of its functions influences the visual representations: the black and white scenes could be related to the infection. Feeding from the conventional color symbolism, the dark scenes are the ones that include sex and the bug and death, while the light ones are disease-free. Another structural thing to notice are the two types of frames that divide the panels: the straight lines of the frames indicate that the narrative inside it is the dominant plot line, while the wavy frame represents ambiguous fantasies and crazy dream sequences.

(Image via)

Like in the image above, these dream states often foreshadow the future (some of the recurring symbols are the tail, the cave construction, Chris floating in water, the cigarette exiting the mouth-wound etc.) These déjà vus enable the very confusing organizing structure of the novel, which skips through different stories in place and time with retrospective fragments completing the cyclical form.

Also, what is the significance of the sandwiches?


The first thing you notice when you open Black Hole by Charles Burns are the “normal” faces of teenagers in a high school yearbook. The inside cover presents this novel as an “eerie portrait of the nature of high-school alienation itself”. If you flip to the end of the book, you see these portraits grotesquely disfigured and literally turned alien. Here we see, the term alien operating at different levels. There seems to be a literal transformation of people into aliens and a social alienation of characters within a high school drama.

Just to give some background context, Black Hole was presented as supposedly an autobiographical book. It took Burns 10 years to create Black Hole (1995-2005) and he published the story over time as twelve separate comic books. The graphic novel takes us into the lives of angsty and disaffected American teenagers from the 1970s. Using the woods as a hangout spot, these teens drink, do drugs, have sex. It is slowly revealed throughout the first half of the graphic novel that these teens are also transmitting, knowingly and unknowingly, a sexually transmitted disease which they refer to as “the bug”. This teen plague physically changes their bodies in different ways for everyone. All of the deformities experienced by the victims of the bug are different in their own way.  Is the bug a metaphor for some other disease? HIV/AIDS? The disease is strange in that it does not cause death or pain, only mutations: tails, or mouths where they don’t belong, or skin that moults, or webbed fingers . What do these strange growths represent? Why does it affect everyone differently? Are their deformities a portrayal of how they feel in the inside? These deformations cast each of the victims into social isolation. To what extent is this disease acting in the social realm vs. purely biological realm? It raises the question of how do we sympathize with the outsider?

The novel begins with a hole inside of a frog and Keith’s dream. We are then presented with a foreshadowing of three more types of holes that recur in the novel.

“I froze. I can’t explain what happened. It was like a deja vu trip or something…a premonition. I felt like I was looking into the future… and the future looked really messed up. I was looking at a hole…a black hole and as I looked, the hole opened up… and I could feel myself falling forward, tumbling down into nothingness. For a while I was just floating… I was in this totally black place, it was kind of spacey but it felt nice… nice and safe. Then it was like things started pushing into the blackness…voices, blurry shapes.”

The events are told in a non-linear fashion and the narration shifts between Chris and Keith. With no strict chronology, how and why does Burns play with time and memory throughout the novel? Keith refers to the dream as as a deja vu trip and a premonition. What is the significance of pairing these ideas: a feeling of nostalgia vs. a vision of the future?

Let’s take a look at the two main narrators: two typical high schoolers, Chris and Keith. The narration is constantly shifting between their points of view. Keith is in love with Chris, who doesn’t seem to notice him. Instead she has fallen in love with Rob and inadvertently got the bug from him. Once Chris contracts the bug she is socially isolated from her peers. She wanders through the woods and sheds her skin. What is the significance of this transformation? It is reminiscent of the scene in Angels in America, when Joe sheds his second skin, his Mormon undergarments at the beach. Burns is taking a typical teen angst drama and transforming it into a teen mutant story that visualizes and fantasizes their fears experiences into deformities. How does the bug heighten the social tensions and emotions like anxiety, insecurity, alienation that are common in drama of high school life?

A graphic novel like Black Hole presents the readers with beautiful and bizarre images and settings. How do the natural surroundings and the metaphysical dream worlds Burns illustrates work in the novel? Why do those infected with the bug alienate themselves from society and escape to the woods? Why does Planet Xeno exist? The beginning of each chapter, the two page picture spreads (called diptychs). The left picture is a single object, like a foot, a moon, or a broken bottle, set against a jet black background. The photo on the right shows one or more of the characters mimicking the geometry of the left. Throughout the novel the construction of one page almost always reflects the construction of the previous in some way. How does its black and white presentation add to the overall moody, gloomy, angsty, creepy dysfunctional tone of the graphic novel?

Some comments on Nemesis

Hi, all —

I’m not sure why the comments function isn’t working for this week’s conveners’ post, so I’m pasting some comments here. If you’re responsible for commenting and haven’t yet done so, you can try to comment on this post or, if it still doesn’t work, send them to me and I’ll add them here.


From Nada:

It is always funny seeing how during the time of contagion, “God” is believed to be causing the disease in a dual way: it can be a blessing, it can be a curse. In chapter 2, we can see Bucky struggling with endless questions concerning God’s reasons for creating polio in the first place (p. 170). For religious communities (including the Jewish one), it is hard to believe that God would create something that would bring affliction and suffering to his own creation. Now, some may explain that disease and affliction exist because mankind have sinned and as a result, contagion is perceived as God’s “nemesis” or vengeance, but then again, why did/do good people had/have to suffer? And why is God (or the heavens) being randomly selective? What role does fear play when it comes to believing in God?

And from Odera:

Greetings Everyone,

I personally find this book to be a very interesting read. Unlike some of the texts we’ve looked out so far, Philip Roth is able to provide the readers with a clear and simple lens to reading the passage while still grappling with larger societal issues. At this point in the semester, we are slowly beginning to draw similarities amongst texts. With this one, a see relations to Ibsen’s Ghosts, Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People, and even Oedipus. 

Outside of its similarities to other texts, this one stands out to me for two reasons:

1.) The idea of the ‘plague’ as portrayed  is other texts is most weirdly described as a means to punish a society for its misdeeds. But with this society, there’s no apparent evidence for any form of misdeed. The plague, however, comes as some sort of test for the level of human frailty. To what extent can a society, which holds so steadfast to its Jewish identity and heritage, withstand the moral tests of WWII and the polio outbreak?  

2.) Secondly, the scapegoat role differs greatly from the traditional idea of the scapegoat. Based on my previous experiences with the concept of a scapegoat, when a society is hit with a plague or epidemic, the most ‘irrationally rational’ approach is for the indigenes of the society to lay the blame on an outsider- a societal outlier. With this text though, the scapegoat voluntarily and willingly declares himself the cause of the society’s downfall. This difference from other texts is further heightened as Bucky, the protagonist, is by no means an outsider to this society. Yes, he deals with issues like his poor eyesight, and inability to be conscripted into the American Army, but he is very much central to the workings of the society. He is the playground director, characterized as being of good physical build, and most—if not all—of the parents and children seem to hold him in high regard. So why does he willingly confer on himself the title of ‘scapegoat’ even when he doesn’t ideally fit into that role?

Deontology V.S Utilitarianism?!

Throughout Philip Roth’s Nemesis, we can see the main protagonist, Bucky, constantly putting more and more responsibilities on himself even if he shouldn’t be the one to bear the burden. After knowing that he “might be” the cause of the contagion (not even definite about the exact source of contagion), he holds himself accountable for the whole polio epidemic among the children of the Weequahic section and the children of the Camp Indian Hill and deprives himself of all the joyful events in his life.

“The only way to save a remnant of his honor was in denying himself everything he had ever wanted for himself.” (262)

Though we may never know the true source of contagion among the children of the Weequahic section and the children of the Camp Indian Hill, let’s suppose, just suppose, that Bucky is the source that spreads polio. In this case, should he be blamed for the contagion even if he is a good-willed man, a decent, responsible man only hopes and attempts to help all the children to be healthy?

This reminds me of the two competing systems of ethics, namely, deontology and utilitarianism. Deontology is concerned with whether an act is intrinsically right or wrong, while utilitarianism believes that only the consequences of an act are important. Deontology deals with intentions and motives while utilitarianism focuses only on results.

What do you think in this case? Should he be blamed?


“It couldn’t find them here”

Philip Roth’s Nemesis gives us a glimpse into the lives of the residents of the polio-stricken neighborhood of Weequahic. We are introduced to several characters in the course of the story, each displaying a unique relation to the world on the basis of their understanding of polio.

Indian Hill was a means of escape for Bucky, a safe haven to be with his love, Marcia and far away from the contagion. Everyone in the story appears to be running away from polio. It almost makes it seem like polio is hunting them down. Polio becomes a hunter, out in search of its next victim. Marcia even exclaims “How could it possibly hunt them down here?” ( 229).

I imagine that polio takes on an avatar of the grim reaper. No on escapes from death. One is never aware of the arrival of death. In the same way, no one knew when they would become a victim of polio. This probably made it an even scarier ordeal for the residents in the story.

The idea of the hunter is particularly interesting, considering that the nation was in a state of war. Soldiers are almost like hunters, entering foreign territories with the aim of hunting down the enemy, and the prize of the hunt being the victory in battle.

The American polio epidemic was a difficult time in medical history. This is the link to a 1940s Polio Epidemic Fundraising Film which recounts the difficulties of treating the multitude of ill and the use of iron lungs.

Just imagine if we did not have the polio vaccine in the present day? What horrors would we be witness to?

Happy reading!


Revenge in Nemesis

Goddess of Revenge and Retribution
A portayal of Nemesis: Goddess of Revenge and Retribution

Nemesis, the Greek goddess of revenge and retribution is the mythological woman who gives title to Philip Roth’s novel about Polio-stricken New Jersey. Set in 1944, our narrator tells us the story of Eugene “Bucky” Cantor, a 23-year old Jewish playground director whose life is filled with loss: his mom died at childbirth, his dad was imprisoned for stealing and was never present in his life, his grandfather — who took the role of father — died three years before the novel takes place to a heart-attack, his girlfriend Marcia took a job at a faraway camp in the Poconos, and at present, Bucky’s playground children are one-by-one contracting Polio and dying. Not only is Mr. Cantor stricken by the loss of people, he was also born with very poor eyesight, a factor that prevents him from joining the army and as he sees it, from serving the nation honorably, and helping his fellow generation in the battle of WWII. It’s hard to believe that a character struck by so much loss is still so devoted in preserving the well-being of others. What determines a person’s character? What factors define whether a person will turn out good-intentioned or bad-intentioned?

In page 27, we get a glimpse into how devastated Bucky was after being rejected by the army for his eyesight. “He felt the shame of someone who might by himself have made a difference as the U.S. forces in the Pacific suffered one colossal defeat after another.” One interesting thought here is that bureaucracy has no sympathy. The rules are the rules and it doesn’t matter if Bucky is better able than anyone else to join the war, his eyesight doesn’t meet the army’s requirements. His disability predetermines much of his life: the job he can get and the way he perceives himself. Partly this, and partly the unfairness of Polio stealing away the lives of the purest children, like Alan, are what cause Mr. Cantor to begin questioning God and religion: “How could there be forgiveness—let alone hallelujahs—in the face of such lunatic cruelty?” In Nemesis, Roth paints a picture in which the Jewish community seems to be the most affected by the outbreak of Polio, and in a way, this shows the historical persecution of Jews. At the time the novel is set, the Jews are still being persecuted by Nazi Germany. Not only is humanity striking against the Jews, but also contagion. This idea brings us back to the title, Nemesis: what is Roth trying to tell us about Revenge and Retribution? Could it be that the Jews are being punished by Nemesis for something they’ve done as a community? (It’s very unlikely that this is where Roth is guiding us; a Jew himself, Roth actually graduated from Weequahic High School, in Newark, around 1950.) Perhaps, the whole point of the novel is to challenge the idea of revenge and retribution. Can anyone fairly judge people and grant them the retribution they deserve? Is there an alternative to looking for a scapegoat, or for someone to blame? Is it possible for humans to find justice without blaming one another?

At the same time that Nazis used the Jews as scapegoats for all the bad things that were happening to Germany, many families in the book are looking for scapegoats, someone to blame for their children contracting Polio. One of these cases is the mother of the brothers who bullied Horace. When Mr. Cantor calls her to give her his support for her kids contracting Polio, she insults him, asking him how he even dares to call her, after causing the children of the neighborhood to get Polio. In this way, Nemesis shows us the inevitable human nature of seeking for the guilty one. Also, What’s up with Horace? What should we make of him? He’s described as an idiot, and a moron. Before learning that he actually has a medical condition, the description of Horace seems to be that of a very bad person, but when we readers learn he’s actually mentally disabled, it is striking the cruelty with which he’s described and treated. Could Nemesis be punishing this community because of their cruelty towards an innocent child? They even point fingers at him saying he’s a carrier of Polio. Why is the community so cruel towards him? Horace suffers of a collective discrimination because of his mental disabilities that makes him a pariah, an outsider, rejected by the rest. Likewise, Mr. Cantor’s eyesight disability causes him to be rejected by the army, however, with his strong build and charismatic personality, he is very respected in the neighborhood.

Towards the end of the section, we find that Mr. Cantor has taken up on Marcia’s offer for him to take the job close to her. Many are the reasons why he is finally convinced that leaving is a good idea, but are these reasons respectable? Mainly, his leaving is questionable because he’s leaving his grandma, an old widow who devoted her life to him. But can we really judge him? The typical quote about having kids is, “And just like that, they’re gone.” This raises the question, What’s a child’s duty to their parents, or those who raised him/her?


FDR and Polio, beginning in 1921

The World’s Worst Industrial Disaster: Who’s To Blame?

In the early hours of December 3rd 1984, between 30-40 tons of methyl isocyanate, a highly toxic gas, leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant just three miles outside of Bhopal, India. The poisonous gas burned people eyes, throats, and resulted in the immediate death of at least 3,800 people. In a 2006 affidavit Indian government figures estimate that over 5,200 people were killed and several thousand other individuals were severely disabled. Following the disaster, Union Carbide tried to avoid any legal responsibility. Survivors fought for years to bring justice to the suffering they faced. The cause of the disaster remains under debate even today. Many, including local activists and the Indian government, argued that poor management and maintenance led to a backflow of water into the methyl isocyanate tank and led to the leak. However, Union Carbide disagreed. In 1985 they began an extensive investigation into the incident, conducted more that 70 interviews and “examined some 70,000 pages of plant records and documentation that the Indian government had reluctantly released”. They concluded, around 3 years later in The Jackson Browning Report, that a large volume of water had been put into the methyl isocyanate tank. In short, it was an act of sabotage.  Eventually the company reached a settlement with the Indian government. They accepted moral responsibility and paid a compensation of $470 million. This disaster created sentiments of distrust and hatred of American companies, as seen so clearly in Animal’s People. So, who’s to blame for what happened? The “Kampani” from “Amrika”? Or those who sabotaged the pesticide plant? How does this change the way we think about the book and how blame is divided? 

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Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People, set in the city of Khaufpur (meaning “the city of fear”), serves as a reenactment of Union Carbide city gas leak that affected the people of Bhopal in 1984. The story is set almost two decades after the leak, around 2001, when Animal reaches the age of 19. Unlike other novels and plays we’ve been exposed to in this class, the “contagion” being described was neither brought about by divine prophecy nor natural forces. Counter to other popular reads, the sufferings and terrible diseases affecting the people of Khaufpur was as a result of a man-made chemical spill in The Kampani — a pesticide plant. The people who survived suffer from terrible diseases that cannot be treated because of the poverty in the city. When doctor Elli Barber comes to Khaufpur to start a free clinic it is harder than she expects because everyone thinks she is part of the factory that caused destructions.

The audience of the text is quickly ushered into the novel with the lines, “I used to be human once […] people who knew me when I was small say I walked on two feet just like a human being.” Hence, before delving deep into the heart of the novel, we (the audience) begin to grapple with the question: What does it mean to be human? Does being human equate to able-bodiedness? Or the quality of being bipedal? Consequently, the book also draws to light the question of what it means to be an animal. Grappling with these questions led us to look up the term “animal” in the Oxford English Dictionary and we came up with the following definitions:

  • “A living organism which feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized sense organs and a nervous system and able to respond rapidly to stimuli.”

  • “Any such living organism other than a human being.”

  • “A person without human attributes or civilizing influences, especially someone who’s cruel, violent or repulsive.

These definitions may be framed in terms of the literal sense of the word but it will be important to apply some of these definitions when assessing some of the qualities displayed by twenty-year-old orphan boy. The most obvious depiction of the boy is with his name “Animal”. Indra Sinha, thus far, hasn’t divulged the true name of the boy. The author and our main character choose to stick to the name “Animal”. Similarly, the audience is made aware of his seemingly crude behaviours, which include extreme aggression, biting, and eating his feet for pleasure (Sinha 13). Interestingly, these “animal behaviours” do not manifest because he is an animal, but because of society’s reactions to having such a “creature” in their midst. He had to learn to defend himself from the “humans” who treated him so callously because “…if you act powerless, you are powerless…” (Sinha 19). Perhaps, he’s adamant about not identifying as human because, ironically, being human doesn’t just entail bipedalism but the attributes of evil, callousness and the inability to tolerate anyone who’s “especially abled” (Sinha 23).

There are a lot of connotations that go with one’s name: “Zafar Bhai, Zafar brother” because people respect him,”Eyes” because of his abilities to read and perceive and interpret information, “Banjara” or gypsy because “she belongs nowhere and everywhere is her kingdom” (Sinha 18) and then “Animal” because he’s perceived as a four-legged creature. What is the significance of “names” in this text and how do they influence how characters in the text are perceived in their society?

The use of dark humour is also a noteworthy feature of the book. For the most parts, this humour creates a satirical, almost cynical tone of the whole post-leak situation, tickling the audience to laugh but then rendering them to feel guilty afterwards. Recall how Animal makes fun of his condition by telling a joke about “the turd lying in the dust” that still “resemble the kebab you once were” (1). The audience would definitely find this funny, but the realization that this joke is a form of lamentation told by a real person suffering from a real fatal consequence of a real event suppresses them from laughing. This troubling effect, in a way, is fostered by how the narrative perspective is played. The book is directly told by Animal, which is supposed to remove the possible gap between him and the audience that might exist if the delivery of his story was done by the journalist. Yet the use of dark humour in the book somehow reiterates the faint line that separates Animal from the audience. Animal makes it clear that he is the victim and we are just mere spectators. Of course he is entitled to satirize the gas leak and its impacts on the locals, but does that mean we, as outsiders, can appropriately laugh at his jokes? How should the relationship between Animal and the audience be perceived? What is the significance of humour in the development of this relationship?

Like most other texts too that we’ve read this semester, this one introduces a seemingly complicated love plot; Animal is in love or lusts after Nisha, a girl whom is presumably already in a relationship with Zafar. Because he doesn’t identify as a “(hu)man” Animal doesn’t feel like he’s deserving of Nisha’s affection because he’s abnormal. In his words:

“Of course I had no chance with Nisha. She was besotted with Zafar and my back was bent as a scorpion’s tail. Over and over I’d tell myself, if only I could stand up straight, it might be a different matter, that old guy wouldn’t have a chance. This made me feel better but changed nothing. What hope was there that my back will even unbend? I complained to Nisha that everyone else would one day get married, but no girl would ever look at me.”

Sinha 47.

Animal’s feelings towards Nisha, however, serve a deeper purpose in assessing the texts that some readers may be unaware of. Going back to the definition of an animal in the Oxford English Dictionary, an animal lacks “human attributes”. Animals feelings of affections towards Nisha serve as a reminder to the audience that Animal is still very much human. His ability to recognize some form of romantic love for Nisha, sets him apart from most animals, whose definition of love is perhaps confined to that of sexual lust, even though he constantly reiterates that he’s an animal. Following from the first question, To what extent does the character of Animal either influence or alter the literal definitions of “human” and “animal”?

The text, unlike other texts we’ve read, gives a different portrayal of “the foreigner”. In previous texts, the foreigner is depicted as the cause of the contagion. However, this text portrays the foreigner as both the cause of the chemical spillage and as the saviour of the Khaufpuris. The “Kampani” from “Amrika” has been blamed from the onset of the novel as the leading cause of the oil spillage. Zafar is even adamant about taking them to court and bringing them to justice for the sufferings inflicted on the Khaufpuris. On the other hand, it’s the American doctor — Dr. Elli Barber — who abandons her job in America to come start up the Khuafpur free clinic geared towards the poor and destitute. Why are foreigners depicted as literally the cause of and probable solution to the problem of the Khuafpuris? What is the significance of this portrayal to the nature of the contagion in the book?

Throughout the book, we are presented with scenes where Animal displays an incredible talent of hearing voices unheard by other characters. His ability to translate French without having knowledge of the language, his awareness of Aliya’s calling him out to play even though she is nowhere in sight, his talking to Kha-in-the-jar who is literally just an aborted baby — all these scenes make the audience question whose voices Animal is hearing. One would probably be inclined to think that this is just a reinforcement of Animal’s identity as a dog-like creature. Dogs in general have the capability to perceive sounds with frequencies twice to human’s range, and they can even sense the arrival of someone or something from as far as 80 feet away just by hearing their footsteps. Given the frequent mention of Animal’s equation with dogs, is it possible that these voices attempt to signal Animal to pay attention to whatever’s coming his way? Do these voices, coupled with his disability, instead enable him to carry out his spying mission? We definitely need to keep note of this as we read through the rest of the book.

Happy reading! And here’s an Animal sculpture by Eleanor Stride photographed at the Stride Gallery in Vers, Midi-Pyrenées, France.


Odera, Dayin, Noora and Nada.

AIDS in China and Censorship


Check The Guardian’s article for an interesting review of the censorship process Yan Lianke went through to publish not only Dream of Ding Village but many of the other books as well. Dream of Ding Village was banned and publishing his texts cost Lianke many consequences: being forced to leave the army, forced to write auto-critiques for four months, unpaid despite being promised money…

In addition, take a look at this short video explaining China’s AIDS Villages and the spread of AIDS because of the blood economy. The video clearly points fingers at the Communist Party, specifically past governor of Henan and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, as the one to blame for the AIDS spread in China. We also get a real taste of what the reality portrayed in our novel really looks like.

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Love for Life

From Yan Li, who took this course in the spring of 2015:

As promised, here is the link to the full movie based on Dream of Ding Village. This movie is directed by Gu Changwei, one of the most famous “fifth generation directors” in China, and performed by many famous Chinese actors, such as Zhang Ziyi. You may be familiar with her early film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.Love for Life was released on 10 May 2011 in China. Though this movie is a little different from the novel and focuses more on Lingling and Ding Liang’s love story, it faithfully illustrates the rural background and the tragic flavor of the storyline. Hope that you will further understand the setting of the novel by watching this film.

Here’s an interview with director Gu Changwei from TimeOut Shanghai.

A companion documentary, Together, offers a “a behind-the-scenes look at the Chinese cast and crew’s reaction to AIDS patients who participated in the filming of Gu Changwei’s feature film.” (See this interview with director Zhao Liang. And this one.) The documentary is in several parts on YouTube. Here’s the first: