Dragonflies have multifaceted eyes. In Dragonfly Eyes, the first feature from acclaimed contemporary artist Xu Bing, recycled surveillance camera footage and streaming serve as the basis of a flustering work. The plot is constructed exclusively with gathered images with added dubbing.

A woman, Qing Ting (meaning Dragonfly) leaves the monastery where she was educated,  takes a job at a mechanical farm and falls in love with a man who ends up in jail. Upon his release he tries to win her back, but she apparently transformed herself physically becoming an Internet sensation…

Built on a rather conventional drama-love story, Dragonfly Eyes‘ ultimate shape is far from being conventional. Thousands of eyes, recording interlinked stories, become one vision. Multiple people caught on camera are ‘playing’ a same character. Their stories are making a sole storyline. It all lies in the eyes of the beholder. The editing was obviously quite a task. And Bing with sound designer Li Danfeng recreated a soundtrack with dubbed dialogues to sustain the narrative. It is served with an oppressive cyber ambiance, amid low-tech rendering . Yet, the collected and selected data highlight the fact that we have quite common stories. And Xu Bing, with his use of these private images, ultimately reaches for the intimate. The clichés serve the purpose. After all isn’t it a fact that most films nowadays bring us into numerous commonplaces? Now the commonplace get scrutinized.

Dragonfly Eyes is a formidable experiment. But it also works well as a feature drama. It even achieves some great climax scenes provided we accept to loose ourselves in the wild world it has to offer. It is our world after all.


RIDM Screenings :

Nov. 14 5:30 PM
Cinéma du Parc 3
With English subtitles

Nov. 18 7:00 PM
Cinémathèque québécoise – Salle principale
With French subtitles