Porte de Choisy

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*Sorry, but this is the best I could find and it doesn’t have English subtitles. It’s basically a beauty salesman trying to sell his products to Xi Lin, the owner of a salon in Chinatown. Initially, she’s a tough customer, but then they fall in love. The film is meant to be a little “out there” and funny. I suggest you skip over to 2:51…

“Porte de Choisy” is one of the short films featured in the collection Paris Je T’aime directed by Christopher Doyle. Granted, this is in France but I figured that this short film applies to Said’s Orientalism and Ting’s The Power of Sexuality. After three minutes, we see Xi Lin opening the door for Henny in a strapless dress with a rather wide slit. That thirty second scene echoes the Occidental’s idea of the Orient–rather, their initial and romanticized idea–as the women being exotic, sensual, and with the help of that dress, sexually available. At this point in the film, Xi Lin is attracted to Henny and starts playing with her hair. She doesn’t think she fits Henny’s standards as an Asian woman because she looks different; thus, leading her to dye her hair blonde and straighten it to fit into what may be deemed “Western standards”. I can’t exactly remember the term we discussed in class, self-hatred? Something like that.

Yes, it’s a happy ending and yes, it is a bit bizarre. I don’t know why but during our discussion on Friday, I thought of this short movie. All of you probably have a better shot of analyzing it than I do.

One Response to “Porte de Choisy”

  1. cttuley Says:

    LOVE this movie! I think I can appreciate this much more now. Last semester I took a class on the cultural history of modern China and we watched a lot of movies and I’m doing my thesis on the Cultural Revolution and film, and this is definitely very evocative of many modern Chinese films. Color plays a huge role in most Chinese films. This short reminds me of the films of the last decade, such as “The World,” where brightly colored sets are contrasted with a more drab reality. In this clip, the monk with the red robes in the dark bowling alley is a similar set up.

    What I think makes this clip so interesting is that the director took the very traditional elements of Chinese film while combining it with the popular elements of song and dance and kung-fu that can relate to a more “universal” audience. The orientalist themes, such as the seductive and powerful woman, are also things that would appeal to a larger audience who are used to those stereotypes.


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