Director Wang Bing casts an understanding and non-judgmental eye on the inmates of a decrepit Chinese mental hospital in this eloquent and emotionally impactful documentary.
'TIL MADNESS DO US PART
Shot with detailed precision, 'Til Madness Do Us Part documents daily life inside an isolated mental hospital in the southwest of China.
Home to about 100 men, the decrepit institute houses its patients in grime and seclusion. Aged between twenty and fifty, these men are detained for various reasons and disorders. Some have killed. Some are simply outsiders, forsaken by the local government for having broken the rules. Lonely, abandoned by relatives who seldom visit, they look for comfort and warmth; they look for physical affection. They kiss and touch each other's bodies, and often, at night, they look for someone to sleep with; someone to share incoherent dreams of affection on cold winter nights.
Wang Bing's visual account of the strangeness of the institute and its ghostlike inhabitants echoes the hypnotic rhythm of compulsive behaviour. We watch the exhaustive comings and goings of men along the corridors — their repeated disjointed gestures, their habitual smoking, their dressing and undressing — without ever losing attention.
The director's unique way of setting his
understanding eye over minute gestures
and apparently trivial situations eases the minds of his subjects, who engage the
camera with unprecedented candour. By
deliberately withholding judgment, Wang
actually renders a ferocious critique of the
system. The eloquent beauty he extracts
from dirty, raw material creates a new form
of plastic art — one of great visual and emotional
impact — that draws from his earlier
works such as West of the Tracks.
Special thanks to The Japan Foundation, Toronto.