Zhou Yu’s Train

Zhou Yu’s Train , dir. by Sun Zhou, 2002, China


Zhou Yu, an attractive young pottery worker and painter, interested in poetry and anything that would take her away from the mundane world of the adult and to her childhood of innocence; driven by her need to find beauty, spirit and ideal in her work-a-day reality; falls in love when a certain Chen Qing wrote poems about her beauty; twice a week, takes the local train to her sweetheart’s home in Chongyang; her relation to Chen is characterized by a lack of understanding of her own enigma and split: the impossibility of finding beauty and spirituality in an industrial civilization in which art/artist is dead

“I” (Ah Xiu)Living in the same town as Chen Qing, , Ah Xiu is another young woman (Zhou Yu’s alter ego?) fascinated by Chen Qian’s collected poetry entitled “Zhou Yu’s Train;”falls in love with Chen Qing through reading his poetry; obsessed with finding the source of his creativity, finds that Zhou Yu is dead when the bus she was on ran off a cliff; envious of Zhou Yu for her ability (or self-deception) to die pursuing her love; herself takes Zhou Yu’s place as a regular passenger of the train trying to find the source of Chen Qing’s poetic creativity
Chen Qing, resides in Chongyang working as a librarian with no interest in his work other than being surrounded by books; unsuccessful amature poet with very little hope to publish his work in a society with little appreciation of art and poetry; in love with Zhou Yu but unsure and afraid of committing himself to a future that includes her who wants him to succeed as a poet; feels inadequate about his manhood and insecure about his relation with Zhou Yu; an archetypal figure of the artist who lives for the most part in hos own world of poetry, unable to pay money to have his poems published, which, as he is told, is the only for him to succeed;
Zhang QiangA successful veteranarian who becomes enamored with the mysterious Zhou Yu; younger and more worldly than Chen Ching (his alter ego?), he is everything Chen is not; unable to offer Zhou Yu what Chen Qian can, a morally and spiritually bankrupt realist whose world success in modern China is achieved at the expense of his own creativity and abilities to dream and pursue what is and/or cannot be found in the material world

Train conductor, friend to both Zhou Yu and Zhang Qiang, and a witness to what he believes to be Zhou Yu’s dedication and love for Chen Qian; initially takes Zhou Yu for a business woman because of her busy traveling schedule: twice a week to Chongyang; to him, people who travel this much must be businessmen in pursuit of money


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