Movie rant: Beijing Rocks

I've been thinking a lot about that movie Beijing Rocks. I find these days I keep on wanting to analyze a movie to death and I can only blame my high school for that. But it's the perfect film for the HSC, I really wish I knew about it back then. Some bits are so obscure, the film techniques, the characters, it's like it wants to be analyzed. But I hate structure so let's just flow with it.


Michael sees Yin as a sort of Shakespearean Madonna. In his eyes, she is perfect, innocent and pure. Yin is not deluded about herself, she knows exactly what she is, but this does not stop her from toying with the idea. To her, Michael is a symbol of this image - she never believes his vision but she still flirts with it and holds hands with it.
But when the day is done, the one she loves is Lu. Michael is a distraction but Yin never falls in love with him. Yin chooses Lu because she knows that the fairy tale she plays with Michael is just a story and can not be reality. For that, I feel Michael’s view of her will always be skewed and he will never understand who she really is.

Lu, on the other hand, knows exactly all there is to know about Yin and still loves her anyway. He makes comments like; "oh she's in jail again?" and "in fighting, only I am above her" but despite his apathy, he's completely accepted her for who she is.

However, the tragedy of this story is not Michael’s unrequited love, or even Lu's semi-suicide.

Secrecy has killed off all possible attachments these characters can form with one another. Both males are too wrapped up in hiding themselves from Yin. Despite their regard of her, they have none for themselves, and this leads to the divide between the girl and boy.

Yin wants to know more about Michael, but he can't even tell her the truth about his feelings and his "camera is more honest." Yin loves Lu so desperately, but Lu can not even tell her about his problems, it is like he's ashamed that he has insecurities. He uses his masculine aggression to keep her from discovering too much but in turn this pushes Yin away. She tries desperately to be there for him but he rejects even the strength of her support. "Only Lu would know, but he never told me and now we'll never know." Yin might've been talking about hair but what she really refers to was the secrets that Lu kept from her; secrets which eventually killed Lu.

I feel, for a movie that is about underground rock and roll, rebellion and youth, there is surprisingly little sex or nudity. There is high promiscuity, but Beijing Rocks never actually steps beyond that line. Yin is a exotic dancer; but her routines are tasteful, although tacky. Despite their rough love, Yin and Lu never indulge in physical activity, it is not even hinted at. Michael never even ogles at Yin's body.

The only time sexual activity is present was when Lu hires a whore to cure himself of his anger. I find by presenting this concept in such a manner, the director has pretty much stated that sex is a bestial behavior and quite different from love. Beijing Rocks is so tightly focused around Michael’s boy-like admiration of Yin; this is something that the director has gone out of her way to keep "clean". Interesting.

Another interesting factor was interview-like monologue. Having these segments reveals facets of the character which are vital to understanding their motives; which none of the other characters may be aware of.

For Lu; his was probably the most significant. He speaks of running away from his father at 18 and being too ashamed to return home. He talks about his fondness for dogs. He mentions something crucial to understanding the conclusion of this film. As a boy, whenever he had to go away for a while, he would ask a neighbor to look after his dog but when he returned, the neighbor would always tell him the dog had run away. He says that poverty makes people dishonest; because he knew that the neighbor had eaten the dog out of hunger.

He ends with: "this time, I'm taking the dog with me."

But towards the end of the film, the dog is missing and Lu fears that someone has eaten him. After a series of bad news, this one was the last straw that initiated his breakdown. Despite everything Lu had tried, he couldn't even do something as simple as keeping a dog alive. He feels betrayed by Yin, who was meant to be looking after the pet, but instead was off flirting with Michael.

He feels that poverty made Yin dishonest because Michael is the only child of a immensely wealthy family.

In Lu's final moments, he shouts wildly to the world: "I am the fastest! You can't catch me!" while in his mind he sees visions of his dog being chased down and killed. Lu's affection for dogs may have come from feeling a sort of kinship with them. He prefers mongrels - not clever but very loyal dogs. Certainly a rundown street dog like himself. Lu was not running away from Yin, but rather was running away from poverty and all the disappointments that came with it; his failures as a musician, as a son, as a boyfriend. To say that he was afraid of being eaten up by poverty would be very apt.

I did not want to say that Beijing Rocks is a coming-of-age movie, because it does not fit the traditional genre. But it is, in a way. Michael may have been an adult grown many years, but he has never developed any real relationships; loves, friends, role models or otherwise. Michael has grown up in such a sheltered life that he has never had any real experience; this is part of why he is a failure as a songwriter.

Meeting Yin gives him inspiration to compose a tiny refrain - soft, beautiful notes that speak of a gentle love. Meeting Lu, seeing the passion behind Lu's music, the passion in Lu's life, Michael knows he wants to be a part of that. Even at the very end, seeing Lu's name on his mobile and Michael’s heartbroken weeping, that emotion is the accumulation of all of his experiences.

It is hard to say exactly what Lu and Michael shared. We can not say that Michael disliked Lu, because every clearly Michael saw Lu as a role model, but neither can we say they were good friends as Lu had the girl that Michael loved. But this messy tangle of emotions will all become part of Michael’s experience.

While Beijing Rocks stars Michael as the main character, the focus is never about Michael. It is not even directly about the love triangle or Lu's dishonesty and Yin's loneliness. It is sort of hard to say, but I believe Beijing Rocks is about secrets.