China. Der Alltag – Die Künste

In this four and a half hour documentary or filmic tavelogue, Ulrike Ottinger tries to impart new ways of seeing a foreign culture. "In my previous films I have dealt with the themes of exoticism, minorities and their differing role behaviour within their own culture. Now I am interested in expanding this theme, in getting to know a 'real exoticism' in a foreign land and in a different culture. I am attempting to conduct a visual discourse with my camera about exoticism as a question of point-of-view.
Ulrike Ottinger

In making the film, I was influenced by Chinese naturepainting: by the use of the scroll, which not only demands a different method of painting, but a different way of viewing - rolling out the scroll, focusing in on details, wandering to and fro, viewing piecemeal. So if I was filming a market square, for example, I'd pan very slowly and steadily across the square, rather than trying to capture the image in toto. 
Ulrike Ottinger

Stations of the film


Beijing, February 1985, at the time of the Spring Festival, the ancient Chinese New Years celebration

In the streets around the Drummer's Gate

The Hutongs - houses with inner courtyard in older part of city

The Temple Fair and some of its attractions

The Forbidden City from the outside

The Summer Palace in winter

The Bird Market

"House of Hundred Wares" - the shopping district

The pharmacy "Common Charity"

A performance of the comedy "Happy New Year" in the Mingzu Juyan Theater

The Temple Fair

A closed company-dance function in the ballroom of the Beijing Hotel

The luxury taxi for foreigners and 'Chinese living abroad'

The city taxi - almost exclusively operated by women

"The Beijing Film Studio"

The film director Ling Zifeng




In Sichuan Province, March 1985

How the peasants from Golden Horse River are taking their wares to Chengdu for sale on the free market there.

"At the Mote Bridge" - a Sichuan opera, performed by the Wang Jiang Ensemble of Chengdu

An old Chinese tale of the trials and tribulations in the love between Giant Fish 

(Xuan Deng-Ao) and Treasure Pearl (A Bauzhu), the children of two Mandarin families, friendly with each other for generations and residing at the Emperor's Court. / The evil concubine connives to implicate the innocent Treasure Pearl in an illicit affair. After being chased from her home by her father, Treasure Pearl's suicide is prevented by the "good Mandarin" and "marriage broker," and in the end the lovers as well as their families are happily reunited.

The Lantern Festival in Chengdu

Street of the 'Singing Sewing Machines'

The Bamboo Factory

The ancient provincial town Guanxian / The Tao Temple of Fulongguan (Canyon of the Sleeping Dragon) / The movable dikes / The Temple of Two Kings

Ascent to the Tao mountain monastery in the Qing Cheng Shan (Mountain of 

Green-Blue Attainment)




In Yunnan Province, March 1985

In the provincial capital Kunming: The East Temple Street / The Long Spring 


The Yuantong Temple / The Bamboo Temple / The Golden Temple / and Daguan Park (Park of Great Vistas)

Shilin - the Stone Forest and its inhabitants, the Sani, a minority group

In Yunnan Province, March 1985

On the road to Lake Er Hai, near the Burmese-Tibetan border

The former capital Dali and the villages Xizhou and Zhoucheng, where the Bai 

minority lives

In the evening, on the village square of Zhoucheng, the traveling movie theater 

shows a film about the history of the Bai