Cross Pressures in The Lin Family Shop
China,1959: the Communist government had taken firm root and making films was a skill of encryption and evasion. Zheng Junli,dir. of this movie must have stuggled to keep any potentially anti-communist symbolism out of sight during the movie; yet in hindsight the decisions made according to the cross pressural dictates of the plotline leave a viewer wondering if the choices made by Mr. Lin are morally justifiabble or at least in agreeance with communist policy. Furthermore it seems that the cross pressures that the Lins endure in China of the 30’s are metaphors for the plight of the whole country in the late 1950’s.
The first character we observe is the Lin’s daughter who is trying to keep her cool amidst the taunts and jibes of her anti-Japanese classmates; and by doing so proves a stencil for the remainder of the conflict of the movie. The daughter wants to wear her Japanese clothes and also wants to escape the nastiness of her peers. She wants to show off and fit in at the same time.This embodies the 50’s chinese dilemma of needing to pull up as unified powerful nation and the basic instinct to keep your head down among the Communist govt.
Later a whole spectrum of pressures are unveiled for Mr. Lin whose ‘savings accounts’, loans from the bank, loans out to friends and credit debts to his Japanese goods suppliers leave him making seat-of-his-pants recoveries and lead to a bail out. The many complications of trying to cover his assets show cross pressural improv. based on who he owes money to immediately and not neccessarily to who needs it the most. He has to pay off the KMT to continue to sell Japanese goods; he has to renege on a loan of his goods to a friend; he has to short his Japanes suppliers when the bank keeps adraft he tries to cash. The demands are so fast and furious that he has no time to stabilize his disintegrating life. This desperation at surface level reveals the dangers of trying to exist in a capitalist society but read deeper it reveals doubts about relying on any government or on fellow men whose main drives are self preservation( an easily read anti-communist idea).
Finally the scene with Mr. Lin fleeing the city by boat intercut with the scenes of villagers come to collect their debts and getting beaten by the police who are protecting bank scavengers show heavy consequences without any real indication of what Mr. Lin should have done. the audience has to feel sympathy for everyone and question their own morals.
B A C K to Third World Cinema I N D E X