Jessica Kingdon’s derivative but still mesmerizing documentary, “Ascension”, has its roots in the documentaries by Godfrey Reggio (“Koyaniskatsi”) and Ron Frick (“World”), whose wordless, non-fiction montages explore technology, nature and relations between the Modernism with a near-mystical sensibility. “Ascension”, however, takes a slightly more focused approach by focusing on the contemporary Chinese economy.
The secrets of the film are hardly known to anyone from the fact that China is the world’s largest producer and a huge market with massive purchasing power. Instead, “The Ascension” deals with influential and often alienating images of itself, displaying Chinese productivity, innovation and consumption across class lines, ranging from daily wagers to middle-class hustlers to privileged elites. Till everyone is ridiculously well oiled. machine.
Divided into three sections corresponding to these economic classes, the documentary begins with workers in Chinese factories churning out America’s great products on the assembly line, then creating sex dolls with astonishing attention to detail. The relative decency of these blue-collar workplaces, which speak of the availability of free, air-conditioned accommodation and on-the-job seating options, points to an improvement in conditions as the country rises, though lack of context – is documentary. Completely devoid of observation and description or explanatory text – makes me wonder what sort of places Kingdon had in the first place, and what was essentially (or forcibly) left out of the frame.
It’s hard not to be sucked in by Kingdon and Nathan Truesdale’s beautiful cinematography, which draws attention to the beauty, absurdity, and horror of Chinese capitalism with symphonic panache. Also, this beautification of Chinese society doesn’t quite fit with this viewer: one has to wonder if it counts as a type of tourism.
not evaluated. In Mandarin, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. in Theaters.