A Disappointing Film
The documentary I chose is “Daoism: A Question of Balance”. After taking this class, I got to learn many theories or schools of thoughts throughout Ancient Chinese history. Finally, it came to me that Daoism is the most intriguing theory. The mysterious way of the universe, the Dao, the movement of Yin-Yang, the paradox but thought provoking remarks in Dao De Jing… all seem to be so fascinating and charming to me. It is more exciting when thinking that the theory was brought up over thousands of years ago. The philosophy of Daoism can still be valid and useful in explaining of many phenomena of nowadays modern society. The Yin-Yang and Five Elements theory can still be applicable in many fields. A balance between Yin-Yang, a state of harmony, means sound or healthy; an unbalanced state will result in evil or illness. The balance is not only for the physical body but also for the psychological mind. Humans are not to change the world, but to follow the rules of nature and live in harmony with nature. With the curiosity to know more about Daoism, I chose this documentary, but after watching it, I feel really disappointed about the reality.
The documentary may be successful for a non-Chinese westerner who doesn’t know much about China or Daoism. However, for someone like me who has learned something about Daoism, Dao De Jing and the differences between Daoism and Confucianism, I really don’t think it is worth watching. The film seems to choose some special occasions of Chinese people in daily life and present in the eyes of a westerner randomly. It may answer the questions of a westerner as what is the religion form of deeds done by Chinese, and how the tradition of Daoism make the rites and rituals on certain occasions such as funerals. By the end, the film discusses Taiji, a martial art as developed under the theory of Daoism. To be honest, I couldn’t find any impressive part in the movie at all. The theme is not standing out. Except at the beginning when the interviewer asked the interviewee to give several examples of Yin-Yang theory, and the respondent mentioned examples like man and women, birth and death, day and night, I don’t find other areas with a profound discussion about Yin-Yang theory. The structure is not clear either. In one scene there is a picture of three old men together as a symbol of Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucius scholar having an agreeable time. However, I don’t know what this scene has any relationship with the topic as the title of the documentary is Daoism, and not to mention that the picture is misleading because basically Daoism and Confucianism have different thoughts and ideas about what human should do in the world. We know that Confucianism is primarily concerned with the burden of social responsibility and organization while Daoism opposes the conventional duties of society. How could two of them have a pleasant time together? By the end, the film presents several scenes of people doing Taiji, but still, I don’t see any relationship with the title of Daoism as a question of balance. What Tai-ji exactly? Why does it relate with the Dao? What is the meaning or purpose of the actions? Nothing in detail is told or discussed.
There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes. Similarly, there are a thousand Dao in a thousand people’s minds. Yin-Yang is hard to break out. It ‘s hard to define a person to be good or evil because a bad thief may be a good father; a real police may be a bad husband. People always seek balance. The balance between career and family and the balance between having more time or earning less money. Dao is everywhere, so it is useful to learn about it.