Shortly after completing “An Elephant Sitting Still,” Chinese novelist and filmmaker Hu Bo took his own life. The 29-year-old would not live to see his four-hour epic premiere at the Berlin Film Festival a few months later, which is made especially tragic by how well received the movie has been. KimStim and the Film Society of Lincoln Center have released a trailer for “An Elephant Sitting Still,” which you can watch below.
Here’s the premise, which is fittingly lengthy: “Under the gloomy sky of a small town in northern China, different protagonists’ lives are intertwined in this furious tale of nihilistic rage. While protecting his friend from a dangerous school bully, 16-year-old Wei Bu pushes the tormentor down a staircase. Wei escapes the scene and later learns that the bully is hospitalized and gravely injured. Wei’s neighbor, the 60-year-old Wang Jin, is estranged from his family and, with nothing to lose, decides to join him. Later the pair is joined by Huang Ling, Wei’s classmate. She is bedeviled by a destructive affair with a married school official.
“Together, this unlikely and desperate trio decide their only hope is to flee as the bully’s gangster brother, enraged parents and vindictive school authorities all go on a cold-blooded hunt for Wei across town. As Wei threads his way through the urban wilderness, he begins to come to terms with his own lost life. In the end, he boards a long-distance bus with Huang and Wang toward a city in Manchuria, where it is a rumored that a circus elephant is said to be sitting still, seeming oblivious to pain and tribulations of the world at large.”
“An Elephant Sitting Still” opens at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on March 8 courtesy of KimStim.