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Grand Movie Project #1: 催眠大师 (The Great Hypnotist)


feihong
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The inaugural Grand Movie Project is... 催眠大师!

 

Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNBsfhbvRKY

 

Watch on Youku: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzQ3NzY4Njk2.html?from=s1.8-1-1.1

 

You can also find this movie on DailyMotion and other streaming sites.

 

Why did I choose this film? It has a Douban movie rating of 7.6 so it's probably not terrible. The version on YouTube actually has English subtitles, so really anyone can watch this. But don't get used to it, I think most of the movies I'll pick will only have Chinese subtitles. Anyway, past this point, expect spoilers, so tread carefully unless you've finished watching the movie.

 

Edit after watching movie: The dialogue isn't very complicated, so even intermediate speakers should be able to understand quite a bit of it. And of course, you have the subtitles to help you.

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Thanks for starting this!

 

The director, Leste Cheng or 陳正道, is Taiwanese, but this film seems to be a Chinese production. I haven't seen any of his previous features although I've had for a long time Eternal Summer (盛夏光年) in my waiting list, which is perhaps a decent Taiwanese teenager melodrama. I'm curious about Cheng's switch to China industry and horror film.

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A review: http://www.lovehkfilm.com/reviews_2/great_hypnotist.html

 

Positives:

- Art direction.  Stylish, but not too stylized.

- Sound design.  I imagine with a 5.1-7.1 setup there is a real sense of space.

- Karen Mok.  Great performance.

 

I personally didn't care for the film, but that's mostly because I don't like this type of film (besides Sleuth (1972)).

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I haven't watched the film yet but according to ChineseTextAnalyzer I should know more than 85% of the vocabulary. I'll watch it first without subtitles to see how well I can understand the plot and then I'll start listening to the dialogues with WorkAudioBook (see this very useful post by tysond).

 

Maybe someone wants to share strategies on how to use this film to improve listening skills?

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@Naphta The dialogue does contain some psychology terms, but other than those words you should be able to figure out most things from context. The plot is also pretty simple. However, a cursory search didn't turn up a version of the movie that doesn't have English subtitles. If you want to watch it without English subtitles, you can look for the film on Youku. I would try it myself but at this moment I'm unable to access Youku (even though Tudou, which is owned by Youku, loads up just fine).

 

Edit: Found the Youku link, and pasted it into the original post. However, even that version has English subtitles.

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Just finished watching this last night. I liked it! It wasn't brilliant, but it was pretty good.
 

I think most people will agree with me that this isn't a real horror movie, even if it does have elements of horror in it. After the first part of the movie there weren't any jump scares at all, just a general creepiness. And the ending nullifies any possibility of supernatural involvement.


 
My favorite movie podcast, 观影风向标, did an episode on this movie back when it first came out: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/guan-ying-feng-xiang-biao/id791978196?mt=2&i=308849993. It is worth listening to for details about the production, but especially because one of the hosts talks about an alternate ending that was considered but never made it into the final movie.
 
For those of you who won't have the patience or listening ability to sit through an all-Mandarin 30-minute podcast episode, here is the alternate ending:

 

In the alternate ending, it's revealed that the deceased spouses of Xu Ruining and Gu Jie were actually having an affair with each other. The two psychologists figured this out and enacted revenge by using their hypnotism to cause their deaths (I guess by suggesting they drink so much that it's difficult to escape the car after it drops into the river). However, Xu Ruining was overcome with guilt, and Gu Jie became concerned that this would cause him to crack and reveal their crime. Gu Jie agrees to the unorthodox treatment plan of Professor Fang in order to silence Xu Ruining (perhaps by hypnotizing him into believing a version of the story where he doesn't conspire to murder his wife).

 

Personally, I would've much preferred this version of the script. It's not clear why it was scrapped for the simpler script that we actually see in the movie.

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Personally, I would've much preferred this version of the script. It's not clear why it was scrapped for the simpler script that we actually see in the movie.

Because in mainland films, the bad guys can't get away with it.  See the HK vs China endings for Infernal Affairs, for ex.

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I watched the film today without subtitles at all. I could follow the plot (I guess the visual elements make it clear enough) but there were lots of details in the dialogues I couldn't understand.

 

I agree that the final version presents some kind of moral censure. The alternate ending would have been more interesting, but still, I'm not really convinced by the final twist. Infernal Affairs alternative ending is indeed a canonical example of why the growing influence of China in HK productions is a real disaster. Another interesting point would be the "metaphor" of the car accident, a common place in Mainland thrillers and an interesting way of dealing with guilt, justice, power, secrecy and so on.

 

Anyway, I'll start using WorkAudioBook to listen to each dialogue trying to understand everything and to eventually learn new words.

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@Naphta

 

Where did you find a version of the movie that doesn't have subtitles?

What did you feel was the problem with the final twist?  I thought it was OK, but maybe only because I was able to accept the fantasy version of hypnotism presented in this movie.

 

Also, if you have any questions about a specific piece of dialogue, feel free to ask them here!

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@feihong I downloaded a copy of the movie! It shouldn't be hard to find...

 

 

Regarding the final twist, I was really liking the idea of a ghost story within the limits of the hypnotist's office. I think that combining the enormous field of the supernatural with the very reduced time and space of clinical practice (in a very theatrical staging by the way) was a very risky bet and Leste Chen was skillful at dealing with it. But the final twist makes the plot too schematic, in my opinion. I would have preferred that it remained ambiguous.

 

I've listened again to the first sequence of the film which is quite easy to follow and now I'm studying the hypnotist's speech at the auditorium. It's a little bit difficult for me since there are a few technical words. I'll ask here if I have any questions!

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