Thursday, November 10, 2016
Nathanael Hood on The Beekeeper and His Son (2016) DOC NYC 2016
One sees in both men echoes of the struggle between traditionalism and modernity—in other words, perfect fodder for commentators eager to exploit their lives as props for political arguments. But what struck me most about The Beekeeper and His Son was Weng’s sense of time and place. Weng replicates the rhythms of peasant life without relying on calculated tedium. There’s something romantic about how old Red Guard posters have become a kind of extension of pastoral Chinese living; a faded portrait of Mao Zedong seems as natural as a wall stained black by eons of kitchen smoke. Despite the ingraining of cell phones and motorcycles into their lives, there’s something achingly eternal about how they tend their bees, clean out their pig-pen, and make noodles by hand.
Sadly, I except The Beekeeper and His Son to get hijacked by well-meaning yet misguided critics. The film watches in silence as Laoyu yells at his wife and beats his animals. In many parts of the Western world, his actions could be classified as abuse. I just hope that these critics take a moment to appreciate the world Weng was trying to capture and the lessons they bear.
THE BEEKEEPER AND HIS SON plays at DOC NYC November 13. For tickets and more information go here.