No Country for Young Men: Chinese modernity, displacement, and initiatory ritual in Chinese Sixth Generation cinema | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1059-440X
  • E-ISSN: 2049-6710


This article examines youth initiation in two Chinese Sixth Generation films, Wang Xiaoshuai's Shiqui sui de dan che/Beijing Bicycle (2001) and Li Yang's Mang jing/Blind Shaft (2003). It addresses the broader issue of the 'floating population' in China and the impact that rapid modernization has on the social fabric of Chinese society. It also suggests that in light of such social injustices and cinematic representation in the post-socialist China of today, under the guise of modernity and economic progress, there exists a dislocated and disconnected transition into adulthood for youth populations. This article argues that Wang and Yi directly investigate one of the consequences of Chinese modernity: disrupted youth initiatory ritual. Beijing Bicycle and Blind Shaft depict in a narrative documentary form an entire generation of Chinese youth who have been geographically and psychologically displaced as they lose their family connections and education opportunities, move from job to job, and fail to experience appropriate initiation into adulthood, all of which have contributed to a fractured social system.


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