The Black Cannon

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L'Affaire du canon noir

The Black Cannon Incident

(Hei pao chi jian)

by Huang Jianxin



L'Affaire du canon noir

Director: Huang Jianxin

Script: Li Wei, Huan Jianxin

Cinematographer: Wang Xinsheng, Feng Wei

Music: Zhu Shirei

Cast: Liu Zifeng, Gerhard Olschewski, Gao Ming, Wang Yi, Feng Liangcai, Wu Kegong

Production: Xi’an Films Studio, Wu Tianming

Year: 1986

35 mm, Colour, 104 min, 
OV Mandarin with French Subtitles

It all began with a mysterious telegram saying: "black canon disappeared - please search". Zhao Shuxin, an engineer and interpreter, is the unhappy sender as it got intercepted by his superiors. This is the beginning of his trouble. When the engineer Hans Schmidt arrives in China to supervise the putting in of German equipment, he asks for Zhao Shuxin's collaboration as his interpreter. His request is refused as Zhao Shuxin had suddenly fallen into disgrace for no apparent reason. An odd affair was born from a minor fact and misunderstanding, a situation reminding of Kafka's absurdity. The poor interpreter is put aside, investigation on his past is conducted, suspicion almost judgement against him take place, and he never understands what is going on… as he is not given the slightest chance to explain himself.

This satire of a political bureaucracy steeped in an acid sense of humour, between nostalgia and irony, is one of the most violent criticisms of Chinese society in the 80ies.

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