Still Life (Sanxia Haoren) (2006)

Still Life (Sanxia Haoren)



Critic Consensus: Zhangke spellbindingly captures the human cost of rapid industrialization in modern China.

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Movie Info

Jia Zhang Ke's haunting minimalist drama Still Life (aka Sanxia Haoren) takes as its focal point the real-life construction of the Three Gorges Hydro Project and it accompanying massive dam over the Yangtze River in China (allegedly the largest manmade dam in the world) -- a project that required engineers to flood the surrounding territories, including the two millennia-old city of Fengjie. Jia interweaves two stories in connection with the geographical transformation of that area. In the … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: Zhang Ke Jia, Guan Na, Sun Jianmin
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 25, 2008
New Yorker Films

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as Shen Hong

as Han Sanming

as Han Sinming

as Wang Dong Ming

as Guo Bing

as Huang Mao

as Missy Ma
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Critic Reviews for Still Life (Sanxia Haoren)

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (20)

More than a million people have been displaced in central China in the cause of generating electrical power to meet the needs of the future; Jia's flowing river of a picture washes over a few of them as they adjust to life's currents in the present.

Full Review… | November 24, 2008
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Simply one of the best films of last year, this year, or any year likely to come.

Full Review… | October 3, 2008
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

An extraordinary glimpse into the psychology, subtext and austere reality of modern Chinese culture.

Full Review… | September 26, 2008
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Never has destruction looked more beautiful than the demolished buildings in Jia Zhang-ke's Still Life.

Full Review… | May 9, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Writer-director Jia Zhangke is a keen observer of the effects of the break-neck modernization that is stampeding China toward a future that no one can predict, control, or contain.

| April 14, 2008
Top Critic

Jia Zhang-ke is a new auteur making his mark. Embraced abroad on the international festival circuit, if less welcome on screens in China, this writer-director works in a genre that could be called globalist.

Full Review… | February 22, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Still Life (Sanxia Haoren)


a gorgeous minimalist meditation on the effects of the three gorges dam project on the ancient chinese civilization in the area, focusing on two keenly observed characters searching for lost relatives. quiet moving drama, the best i've seen from jia zhang ke yet

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]"Still Life" starts with Han(Han Sanming) arriving in Fengjie as it is in the process of being prepared to be flooded to make way for the Three Gorges Dam. He is looking for the wife he has not seen in sixteen years, desperately wanting to see the daughter he has never known. But he receives news from her brother that she is currently out of town and the best thing to do is just to wait for her. In the interim, Han finds some demolition work.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]In the meantime, Shen Hong(Zhao Tao) also arrives in town looking for her husband who she has not heard from in two years.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]The central theme of "Still Life" is the price of progress. The bitter irony of the Three Gorges Dam is that it is likely to help other parts of the country more than the people who are being dislocated. Fengjie is definitely a fascinating setting for a movie and a good starting place for an exploration of forced mobility in Chinese society. So, while the movie handles the social criticism well, the drama is handled less successfully, as neither storyline is developed as well as they could have been.[/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


The Three Gorges Damn saga has produced some very interesting fictional and non fictional accounts particularly on the displaced people of China. For great Chinese cinema go elsewhere but this isn't a bad way to pass some time.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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