Stirring up a more-than-modest storm of high praise at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, Journey To The West is Taiwanese master Tsai Ming-liang’s latest film (also his first after an announcement of “retirement”) and it is now available for one week of online viewing courtesy of the Arte television network’s website.
Continuing the travels of a stately monk played by Lee Kang-sheng (last seen in Tsai’s 2012 work Walker, which you can watch here), Journey To The West chronicles his wondrously patient journey throughout the city of Marseille. This time around, though, Tsai introduces a second character: a man played by Denis Lavant whose presence in the film begins as almost omniscient—or at least physically abstracted—until he finally manifests in the French streets following the monk in a careful replication of his measured pace. Just as, in what is perhaps the film’s most glorious shot, sunlight reflects an aura of red from the monk’s robes onto a set of subway steps behind him, Lavant is poignantly altered by the walker’s path—going forth with a defiant calm that fosters a perspective for both critique and celebration of the world around them. To divulge any more about this often indescribably beautiful movie would just be too much; needless to say, don’t miss this opportunity to take it all in.