The Wuxi Experience
I am now back in Wuxi for the 5th time, still dropping by for cameos on this show, even though all my lines have left my larynx many moons ago. I still can't believe I took a train back here just to shoot: 1) a shot of me entering a car, and 2) a shot of me running down a mountain. (And on two different days!) But yes, that is literally all we shot this time around. This crew is so generous! (Really, though!)
The third day I rested for a while, and then decided to look around Wuxi. There was a place called Lingshan scenic area that kept popping up on touristy website radars, so I checked it out. Apparently, there was a teeny little Buddhist temple that has got a few fans in the millionaire bracket, and over the last 20 years or so, they have poured enough money into it to erect a ten story tall bronze effigy of the standing Buddha behind the temple, as well as a multi-million dollar 240-ish degree cinema experience to the right of it. Inside this crazy, museum/cinemaplex, I walked through vatican-style flying buttressed archways with European style vaulted soft-toned paintings of Buddha and his origin story. It was truly surreal and not something you see every day here in the east.
When I entered the movie room itself, I found the ceiling to be a spherical dome made up of thousands of large white-and-gold dragon scales, each affixed with a dozen colored lights. The colored lights changed and danced across the scales with computerized precision to heaven-soaring music as the house lights dimmed. Projections of sweeping landscapes graced the circular room's walls, and then the walls lifted to reveal an exquisite, nearly 360-degree stage set of ancient India. A play was performed that climaxed with a giant tree (with Buddha's enlightenment scene unraveling under it) rising out from the middle of the audience. I was fully slapped senseless with the over-overism of this production. It was full to the fullest. Max to the max. Although, I think the actors could have been better. Hmm... Wonder if they're hiring?
I am back in my room now, set to go to Shanghai, and then Shenzhen, and then Hong Kong tomorrow for a visa run. More stories to come upon my return.
Photos by ZJH
-- Nathaniel Boyd