What happens to those slaves (bondsmen) who helped feed the citizens of Utopia by butchering animals for food and thus suffering the apparent moral consequence of diminished compassion is not stated. Perhaps Utopia uses only slaves gotten from outside the citizenry of Utopia for their necessary killing. Utopia has slaves captured in wars they fought and other "foreigners who have been condemned to death" which the Utopians "acquire [...] sometimes cheaply, more often gratis and take them away." Foreign slaves are kept "constantly at work" and in chains. (95) Utopia also has slaves who entered into slavery by choice. These are "poor, overworked drudges from other nations [...] who chose to be slaves among the Utopians." Such slaves can relinquish their slavery whenever they choose, but in doing so they leave Utopia, although they are not "sent away empty-handed." (96)
The trailer of " Voyage en Chine " (Trip to China) is undoubtedly attractive : while it displays beautiful views of the Chinese countryside it sets against them the shapeless figure of an aging, limping, more uncomely than ever Yolande Moreau. The effect is that you can't help asking yourself what the Belgian comedian is doing in such an exotic place ? And the title is only half explicit about that, for this trip does not look like a sightseeing one. Well, for more information, there is no other solution than... to go and see the film. Which I did. I then found out what Yolande Moreau was doing in the Middle Kingdom. In the film she is in fact Liliane Rousseau, a fifty-odd-year-old nurse sharing her modest suburban house with a husband she does not seem to particularly care for. One night she learns by phone the death of her twenty-five-year-old son Philippe : the young man has just been killed in a car accident in China, his adopted homeland. Due to administrative complications, the grieving mother brings herself to go to China, in order to try and sort things out of course but also and above all to mourn her only child with dignity. Only she insists on going alone, certainly not in the company of her husband Richard, whom she blames for having misunderstood their son and caused his estrangement from them. And this is precisely what she does, landing first in Shanghai where Philippe lived and then in the province of Sichuan where he had his accident. Speaking a little English (which does not help very much in the countryside) but not a word of Chinese, this journey proves no pleasure cruise. However Liliane, like a brave little soldier, holds on and finally achieves her initiatory voyage - with a little help from local friends naturally. And just while she opens up to China and its people she gets closer to her son, even if it is too late for him. A profound theme combined with the discovery of another civilization, it looks like we are on track for a masterpiece... Unfortunately this is not really the case. The film is pleasant, yes. As expected, you discover many things about China, particularly about rural China, which is rarely shown in fiction cinema, the views are beautiful and Yolande Moreau is great. So, how come you leave the theater vaguely dissatisfied? One explanation may lie in its exceedingly slow pace. Too many scenes last too long and as they are not rich enough in meaning and/or emotions, a distancing effect (unwanted by the director, I suppose) sets in. With the result that instead of translating the meditative mood of his heroine, Zoltan Mayer inoculates a slight dose of boredom in the viewers' brains. A little more dynamic editing and scenes a little richer in content would have helped give "Voyage en Chine " more impact, which it deserved actually. Another weak point is the way the scenes connected with Philippe's death and funeral. Oddly enough, while the general tone of the film is subdued (even a little too much, as I mentioned before), this part of the film is presented in a melodramatic, if not whiny, fashion. An illustration of it is the (inappropriate) way Mayer directs the pretty Chinese actress Qu Jing Jing, who embodies the late son's former fiancée : she expresses grief too conventionally. So, when she finds herself face to Yolande Moreau, it is disturbing to see the former play while the latter lives. But don't get me wrong: even if I dwelt at some length on the film's imperfections these are only reservations. On the whole, as it is, " Voyage en Chine " remains a respectable work, at any rate worth seeing. Simply, it could have been even better. On the other hand, knowing that this is photographer Zoltan Mayer's first feature, such defects are understandable. So, if you feel like a trip to grassroots China, you can try this one. Just do not expect too many thrills and spills.
The name Raphael, though, may have been chosen by More to remind his readers of the archangel Raphael who is mentioned in the Book of Tobit (3:17; 5:4, 16; 6:11, 14, 16, 18; also in chs. 7, 8, 9, 11, 12). In that book the angel guides Tobias and later cures his father of his blindness. While Hythlodaeus may suggest his words are not to be trusted, Raphael meaning (in Hebrew) "God has healed" suggests that Raphael may be opening the eyes of the reader to what is true. The suggestion that More may have agreed with the views of Raphael is given weight by the way he dressed; with "his cloak... hanging carelessly about him"; a style which Roger Ascham reports that More himself was wont to adopt. Furthermore, more recent criticism has questioned the reliability of both Gile's annotations and the character of "More" in the text itself. Claims that the book only subverts Utopia and Hythlodaeus are possibly oversimplistic.