Assignment is about two films Devils on Doorstep directed by Jiang Wen and City of Life and Death directed by Lu Chuan

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Filming Styles

The two films Devils on the Doorstep directed by Jiang Wen and City of Life and Death directed by Lu Chuan have similarities in their soundtracksand the waythey are shot. The two motion pictures can be categorized as Chinese dramas that focus on the conflicts between Japan and China.In particular, the City of Life and Death is a story about the Battle of Nanjing and other crimes that the Japanese army committed during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In addition, the Devils on the Doorstepentails an event during the Japanese occupation of China during World War II. The two movies are similar in their use of the following elements: documentary filming style, black and white color, shooting with hand-held cameras, and spare soundtracks. These styles were intended to make the films have a unique appeal to viewers, which is responsible for their success. 

The two films are shot in documentary style that highlights different occurrences in the respective Chinese-Japanese wars. The technique is aimed at systematically displaying the various events as they took place during the conflicts. In Lu Chuan’s City of Life and Death, the director decided to shoot the film as a documentary to display the systematic murder of Chinese soldiers and civilians by the Japanese army. The motion picture shows the way some soldiers were shot by using machine guns, a section of them was forced to march into the sea where they drowned, and others were burned alive. The film also shows how the Japanese military proceeded to the villages and committed various atrocities against civilians. In fact, the event occurred in 1937 where more than 200,000 people were affected.  The event is known as the Rape of Nanking, where people were killed and raped. Lu Chuan says that he decided to utilize the documentary filming style in the movie to show that it was as if the Japanese had created and were using a killing program during the war (Movshovitz, 2011). Moreover, the director uses the style to narrate the story through the eyes of a Japanese soldier. He obtained these narrations from interviews conducted with some Japanese soldiers who were involved in the war. The documentary technique enables Lu to triggeremotions, thoughts, and reflections among the audience. In the Devils of the Doorstep, director Jiang Wen narrates about an event in the Second Sino-Japanese war, where two prisoners are left in a Chinese village, with their captors threatening to attack the settlement if their instructions regarding the captives remaining there are not followed.Wen utilizes the documentary filming style to show the events that occurred as the villagers attempted to find a solution after the prisoners were not reclaimedwithin the promised timeline. This technique helps the director outline the struggles that Ma goes through as he seeks a person to kill the prisoners after he is unable to do it himself (Heskins, 2015). In addition, Wen loathes military conflicts, and he successfully sensitizes the audience about the cost of war. Therefore, the documentary filming style enables the two directors to narrate the events that transpired during altercations between Japan and China explicitly.

The two films are also shot in black and white, thereby giving them a different appearance considering that they were produced recently. Devils on the Doorstep was shot in 2000, while theCity of life and Death was created in 2009. The directors used the black and white filming technique to capture the historical aspect of the stories being narrated. Furthermore, the approach helps to give the movies a documentary perspective. Although there were worries about how the motion pictures would perform due to their appearance on screen, the risk was worthwhile as the movie became successful. In fact, the film Devils on the Doorstepwon the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival (Yunxiang, 2008). In addition, Wen states that one of the reasons he shot the film in black and white was his dissatisfaction with Chinese films, "which heavily rely on native colors and Chinese beauties" (Yunxiang, 2008). The directoralso claims that Gu Changwei, the film cinematographer, always wanted to shoot a richly textured film. The use of black and white in Devils on the Doorstepwas efficient as it reflected the historical aspect of the event that occurred in 1937.The same also applies to City of Life and Death by Chuan(Lee, 209). In the former motion picture, black and white was also used to give asharp color contrast that is required to separate the last scene, which is colored, from the rest of the film. These appearance settings provide the movie with an intense contrast, with the last part showing the red color of bloodshed in the village. Therefore, the filming technique of using black and white colors allows the directors to express historical events regarding the war in modern times without altering the context in the viewer’s mindset.

Besides using black and white colors, the two Chinese films are filmed using hand-held cameras. The directors used this technique due to several reasons. Firstly, they sought to give the movies a documentary touch. Consequently, the two productions appear as if the records were being recorded as they occurred rather than being acted. Second, the directors intended to provide close-up images of the events in the movie and capture the different sounds. For instance,Devils on the Doorstep uses the handheld cameras to offer a close-up view of the wayresidents of Ma's village debate on what to do with the prisoners. The method helps to monitor the discussion closely as it can easily move from one villager to the other to show who is speaking. The handheld cameras also play a significant role in highlighting the poor conditions of the village. For example, the clogged nature of the hut in which the villagers have a meeting is shown explicitly. Furthermore, the close-up view enables the cinematographer to highlight the fear and tension among the villagers, which is evident on their faces, due to the threat of being attacked if anything happened to the prisoners (Bergstrom, 2014). Similarly, In City of Life and Death, the use of handheld camera provides a close-up view of the events in the movie. The motion pictures shows scenes of Chinese civilians being rounded up for execution and captures emotions in the cast (Lee, 2009).  The cameras also enable the cinematographer to go to the hospital to show Japanese soldiers who intrudethe hospital and start attacking people on patient beds. By avoiding the tripod and opting to use hand-held cameras, the films offers a close view of the events. Altogether, using this recording technique was vital to providing an intimate view of the emotions and the environment in the two villages during the war.

The films City of Life and Death and Devils on the Doorstep are also similar in their use of spare soundtracks. The producers decided to use the audio technique as it allowed them to incorporate Chinese songs, which helped establish the connection between the motion pictures and the Chinese people: it also enabled them to trigger strong emotions among the audience, particularly because of the songs’ rhythm.Furthermore, the soundtracks in the two films are aimed at complementing the tone that the characters set up in the movies based on the emotions that are running. 

He might have opted for a sentimental approach to the scene in which Ma Dasan tries to kill the Japanese captives, with close-ups and local-flavored emotional music composed by his long-time collaborator Zhao Jiping. But now in Jiang Wen's film, the shots of this scene are quite distanced, the music has a cool tone, composed by Cui Jian, commonly known in China as the father of Chinese Rock'n'Roll, whose iconoclastic style definitely supports the tone Jiang sets for the film (Yu, 2004).

Overall, the use of spare soundtracks in the two films helps capture emotions in the events that are depicted in the movies. 

In the films Devils on the Doorstep and City of Life and Death,directors Jiang Wen and Lu Chuan use similar techniques to create unique productions that reflect the events that transpired during the military conflicts involving Japan and China: the former was the aggressor. The two individuals used thedocumentary filming technique to create the perception that the occurrences were being recorded in real-time rather than acted. Furthermore, the directors used black and white colors to capture the historical aspect of these events. In addition, they used hand-held cameras to provide viewers with sufficient details of the events happening in the motion pictures. Finally, they used spare soundtracks to trigger emotions and establish the connection between the films with the Chinese people. Therefore, the directors used similar production techniques that allowed them to enhance clarity in the movies and provide viewers with background information about the events.

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