If you want to explore a foreign culture in film, perhaps you should go for their comedies – it’s something in my experience that comes out far more inexplicably weird. The Fox Family is a pretty obscure film from what I can see – the page on imdb is devoid of all but the most basic information. There’s no plot summary even – so let’s try one:
A group of shape-shifting foxes have taken on human form and come down from the mountains to the city, where if they are able to eat the liver of a recently killed human-being within a certain time-span of thirty minutes, they will become human forever. They employ their selected victims in a circus they are operating. There are also a series of murders taking place in the city, and a detective who becomes suspicious that the foxes are responsible.
The film is highly absurd; it is also a musical.
I must admit, the reason I chose it is because it was about fox-spirits – and I like Chinese stories about fox-spirits, a genre of which we in the West are largely ignorant. For the last year or so I’ve been secretly reading Pu Songling’s magnum opus, Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (or, at least, the bits of it in English translation), which often seems like an anthology of fox-spirit stories. The basic plot of these stories is this:
- Man encounters strange and incredibly beautiful woman
- They make love and start a relationship
- Man discovers woman is actually fox
The variable is what happens after stage 3.
This idea exists in the core of The Fox Family too. In this case, the man agrees to join in their plot and recruit victims for their liverfest.
I watched this film on mubi, which I’ve mentioned before but had never signed up to. Anyhow, I’ve signed up now (since I reckon I can manage £6.29/month) and shall be watching a whole lot more obscure foreign films as a result. It has some less obscure films too: there’s a few Chaplins, Murnau and DW Griffithses, some Eisensteins and Rays, a Buñuel I noticed.