What happens when China disappears a popular movie?

Screenshot from Return to Dust, which has been pulled from streaming in China but is still available via pirated YouTube copies.

Screenshot from the movie Back to dustwhich has been pulled from streaming in China but is still available through pirated YouTube copies.
screenshot: Youtube

Back to dustThe film, which has been causing quite a stir in China as a sleeper, was unceremoniously pulled from the country’s streaming services yesterday, according to multiple reports on social media. Even the movie was mentioned on Weibo, which is the equivalent of Twitter in China has been blocked. Will movie fans outside China watch this movie? Maybe, provided you don’t mind a little movie piracy.

Written and directed by Lee Ruijun, Back to dust It debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival in February and became a slow-moving success in China over the summer, taking in more than $7 million, according to a recent review from vice. But it’s this success that makes the movie’s removal from streaming services so baffling.

The film tells the fictional story of Yutei and Cao Guoying, two newlyweds in an arranged marriage in rural China who find love and devotion for each other on the fringes of modern society. Youtie and Guiying struggle in their poverty, using a donkey to work on the farm while the movie’s antagonist, a man who wants them out of their home, drives a luxury car. There is speculation that the gap between rich and poor that appears in the film is precisely why it was removed from broadcasting services in China.

He told me recently, “Everyone knows there are a lot of poor people out there.” economic. “But the government doesn’t want the Chinese to see too much of it.”

Chinese leader Xi Jinping previously said he wanted the country’s media to have “positive energy,” and without spoiling the second half of the film, we can assure you Back to dust It has no fancy ending. But even this was apparently fixed in post-production, according to The Economist, with observers adding a footnote stating that all went well for our main characters in the end.

trailer for Back to dust Still available at YoutubeBut the video-sharing service also hosts several pirated copies of the movie as of this writing. And those pirated copies may be the only way to watch the movie for some time, even when the movie’s distributors cease to exist, and who are currently issuing copyright notices. We should note that the version that Gizmodo watched on YouTube did not include any change at the end. Funnily enough, the first version of the movie YouTube’s Gizmodo has been taken down due to copyright infringement while watching it. We found another copy shortly thereafter.

There is currently a lively debate on social media in the US about the ethics of media piracy that cannot be seen anywhere else. The streaming giants have been welcoming for a decade now, allowing people to watch large libraries of movies and TV on demand for a small monthly subscription. But subscription prices have grown exponentially and offers are scattered on too many services to count. To make matters worse, some of the biggest players have started deleting the original streaming shows and not offering any alternative to watch them.

Previously, physical media such as DVDs provided a way to watch a movie or TV show that was not available when streaming. But when a show starts streaming and that player decides to drop it, the media disappears completely, except for the copies you can find on pirated websites. And frankly, people in the 21st century aren’t really used to the idea that big companies have complete control over when they watch a particular show or movie. Back in the mid-20th century, it might have been normal to see something on TV and then never see it again so you could catch it during a replay. But this business model is completely unnecessary in the age of the Internet.

Is it ethical to watch a movie like Back to dust Free on YouTube if the Chinese government decides it should be banned from public viewing? You’ll have to decide on that – we’re not here to tell you how to live your life. But rest assured that pirates will likely be the only ones with as many TV shows and movies from our era a century from now.

It is estimated that about half of films made before 1950 and nearly 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever Thanks to the movie studios that failed to show any interest in preservation. And given the way we’ve seen huge media companies deal with only featured TV shows From a few yearsWe won’t hold our breath that maintaining access is really of the utmost importance to us.

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