Before Christmas short film

★★★★

Directed by: #HeChuyao

Starring: #HouDeyang, #ZhuXianyuan, #LiChengliang, #Hao #Jianchun

Short Film Review by: #AlexandraJames


Before Christmas short film poster

This short film comments on Chinese society and the harsh working environments with which many citizens face on a daily basis. The story follows an aspiring young teenager, hoping to one day make it big within the music industry but whose spirit slowly diminishes under the strict, relentless and mundane regime of the working industry, creating cheap stockings ready for Christmas.


It is clear that the central theme throughout short film Before Christmas is the restrictive, money orientated society that barricades those that seek a life of freedom and enjoyment. He Chuyao cleverly constructs images which portray elements of divide between the evidently rich with high, shiny, tall buildings to the working class families, with strong images of rural, dimly lit homes and the representation of the labouring forces, grafting daily to make it to the top.


There was a definite echo of certain shots, Chuyao creates a repetitive streak through the constant cuts between work and home life. It almost brings the audience into the screen itself where they become a part of mundane lifestyle with no chance of escape. The frequent shots from home life to work life only solidifies this view that poverty can often entrap citizens in a cycle. A cycle often initiated by the prospects of money and the chance of a new life.


One particular lyric which seemed to create a sombre atmosphere was the protagonist singing “Nothing could ever stand between you and the free land.” There was a strong difference between the words and the actual visual aspects on screen. The audience witness the young boy on multiple occasions staring longingly out the window whilst listening to the song throughout this short piece. It becomes clear that the idealistic image of ‘freedom’ remains a distant dream for the young boy and perhaps comments on society as a whole, and makes us question are the working class truly free?


As a #shortfilm Before Christmas provides a snippet into the daily lives of the working classes and creates for although solemn, fascinating film. I felt that He Chuyao ties the whole piece together very neatly, although the audience are unsure as to what path the protagonist chooses to take in the future, be it a career within the music industry or remain within his current position, the open ending is quite fitting. The unpredictability to the story can be seen as a reflection of the lives of hard workers who are unable to know the certainty of their own future and the true relief of freedom. The execution of this short piece was quite professional and I thought that the settings were a perfect match for the entirety of the storyline, a very interesting piece as a whole.