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A Postman in Shangri-La
2007; directed by Yu Zhong

A lyrical and gorgeous-looking movie based loosely on a true story, A Postman in Shangri-La tells the tale of a rural postal worker tasked with transporting a girl from the mountains into the nearest town so that she can move off to college. I assure you the movie is more interesting than that sounds.

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Qiu Lin plays the titular character Wang Dahe, who is the main form of communication for a series of remote villages, delivering not only letters and parcels, but edicts from the government. Gone for weeks at a time, isolated from his wife and son, trekking paths barely big enough for a man to traverse through all sorts of weather, with his only "friend" being his horse King Lang, Wang nonetheless is extremely dedicated to his job. Though, like many Mainland Chinese pictures, the theme presented might come off as a bit propagandistic to some (i.e., dedication to "the state" no matter the consequences), Qiu Lin's performance gives A Postman in Shangri-La a very real and human feel which makes the story resonate with the viewer.

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Also helping matters are the stunning locations and cinematography. This is just simply a lovely film to look at and drink in the surroundings. To someone that normally watches films produced in Hong Kong, which usually feature very gritty settings, the natural and pastoral landscapes of A Postman in Shangri-La came off as like a virtual cleanser for the eyes. Yes, there might not actually really be all that much going on here, especially for those viewers whose brains have been addled by the ritalin-induced speed of many modern films. But sometimes, it's nice to watch a movie and let it absorb into your psyche on its' own merits.

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For a site that normally recommends stuff like the latest squib-fest from Wong Jing, some might take a positive review for A Postman in Shangri-La with a grain of salt. But make no mistake about it, it's with no sense of irony or chutzpah that I can fully vouch for this film. Sure, it might not be for everyone, but for those viewers out there looking to expand their Asian movie viewing habits beyond things like gangster flicks and martial arts pictures, this should fit the bill.


images and trailer courtesy of Wonderphil Productions

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