Blue Island starts with a temporary series set in 1973. A person and girl trek throughout the mountains, sleep till it will get darkish, then make their means into the open water, tied in combination through a rope. After a temporary however spectacular evocation of the trouble of the swim, by which point-of-view pictures make the digital camera — and thus the characters — appear at the verge of sinking, we see mild on an reverse shore, after which a fit reduce to a modern sunlight hours scene in Hong Kong.
With its actual lights and transparent wordless storytelling, one can be forgiven for considering in response to this opening that Chan Tze-woon has made a fiction movie. However that sudden transition finds his skills are as a lot highbrow as they're visible. Blue Island isn't curious about simplistic comparisons between Seventies China and recent Hong Kong. It as an alternative gives a extra refined and nuanced exploration of the hyperlinks between disparate actions, and invitations the viewer to believe each the usefulness and boundaries of such historic analogy.
Within the reward, pupil activists Anson Sham and Siu Yang, who performed the pair within the opening series, watch Chan Hak-chi carry out his personal reenactment of the tip of his and his spouse’s fateful 1973 swim from China to Hong Kong. Sham intones, “Within the face of injustice, he selected to go away as a result of he may now not combat it.” However the equivalence between previous and reward is readily disarmed, as Yang responds, “Hong Kong is other, issues don't seem to be that unhealthy,” earlier than saying that those that selected to escape somewhat than combat had been brave, now not cowardly.
Blue Island continues to position the Hong Kong protests of 2019/2020 in dialog with the activism of prior generations, each actually and thru its development. Chan phases scenes by which the younger activists act along or play their ancestors. Those sequences are revealing, as Chan assists in keeping the digital camera rolling lengthy sufficient for us to peer participants of the older era “proper” the script; all through one dramatization of a Communist Birthday party assembly, Chan Hak-chi notes that admiration and reward for Chairman Mao used to be a lot much less fervent in fact. The movie additionally expands its scope to incorporate the 1989 Tiananmen Sq. protests and the 1966-67 Hong Kong anticolonial protests. Each and every further episode supplies extra regional context and signifies the function of historic contingency in those interconnected occasions.
We additionally see pictures of present-day protests and dramatizations of ongoing trials. All over the latter, as when his collaborators critique his dramatizations of the previous, Chan permits his topics company. We watch them turn out to be mentally and bodily as they get ready for his or her roles, and pay attention as they speak about their affairs of state and backgrounds. Blue Island isn't just educating the target audience, however inviting its lively participation in ways in which carry questions somewhat than shepherding them towards the delight of simple solutions.
Blue Island opens in make a selection theaters July 29.