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Enlightenment from 3D movie Titanic's popularity in China (2)

By Suo Yabin (People's Daily)

08:27, April 24, 2012

Action movies with ancient costume have passed the zenith and are on the wane since 2011. The spectacular blockbusters are less in the Chinese film market after the 2012 New Year. The rerelease of “Titanic” this time filled the market vacancy of three months and triggered upsurge of seeing a movie in the cinema. It is like the release of the third Transformers in the summer vacation time in China in 2011, which gained the second highest box office revenue, ranking only second to the North American film market.

Let's get back to the story of the movie. The ““Titanic”” and the “Gone with the Wind” before it and the “Avatar” after it are the three most commercially-successful movies in the 100-year movie history. Their stories are also similar. In all the three movies, it is a romantic love story in a turbulent background of a specific era, a bitter and sweet affection involving into a sad farewell, and an artistic combination of the social conflict of a special era and the virtues of universal values.

Their difference is that the “Gone with the Wind” focused on the illusion and mismatch of the love in the background of the war, the “Avatar” re-created the traditional “western movie” plot of a forbidden cross-race love into an environmental protection theme and a space adventure, and the ““Titanic”” gave bright colors to a cross-class love story by putting it in the best-known sea disaster of the modern history of the world.

Different from the “Cinderella” story that many U.S. movies love to tell, the ““Titanic”” is a story of a poor young man and a rich girl, which more accords with Chinese audiences' taste. This kind of plot has a long history in the popular culture of China. Most successful domestic movies of China also cater directly or indirectly Chinese audiences' psychology of a normal male hungering for the touch from a “fairy.” The movie “Make it Count” directly by Feng Xiaogang established the basic model for China's comic affection movies. It started showing in the end of 1997, several months before the ““Titanic”.” These two movies, a tragic one and a comic one, echoed each other and some key plots of them were also similar (For example, at the high tide, both heroines did not choose to care about only themselves but instead chose to share whatever it was with their lovers). The two movies jointly reflected a unique psychology of Chinese movie audiences.

The box office of the 3D “Titanic” in China currently is higher than that in the North America, reflecting Chinese movie audiences' desire for “big movies” with amazing audio-visual effects and perfect productions. In China, while “big Chinese movies” are suffering a setback, “small but refreshing” low-cost movies are rising sharply. However, movies makers should never always go with the wind. Chinese “big movies” still need improving a lot. While paying attention to the popular theme, smooth expression and amazing effects, they should pay more attention to James Cameron's professional spirit of pursuing the perfect. Without the professional spirit, technologies will not only be unable to help the art but also ruin it.

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