Pirated Copy

by Tom Horgen

IDir. He Jianjun

If you’ve gone to the movie theater or watched an award show lately, you’ve probably seen the commercials and heard the rhetoric condemning film piracy.

Here’s a movie that offers a somewhat oppositional take. “Pirated Copy” isn’t overtly making a case for piracy, but it is presenting a side of the debate that’s only really been brought up when discussing pirated music. It’s this idea that while illegal bootlegging might be hurting industry sales, it’s giving people who genuinely love the art a chance to see things they might not necessarily be able to because of financial restrictions.

“Pirated Copy” engages this idea by weaving together several different stories of people connected to DVD bootlegging in Beijing. Among the many stories in the film, the most riveting is about a woman who enriches her life and the lives of others through bootlegged copies of Pedro Almodovar films.

There’s another aspect of “Pirated Copy” that’s equally interesting and seems to take the film down another path politically. At one point, the film juxtaposes a scene of a bootlegger watching the classic Italian film,

“The Bicycle Thief,” with a scene of a street seller getting arrested by the police. In “The Bicycle Thief” a man, whose own bike has been stolen, must steal someone else’s so he can make it to work in time and earn money to feed his family. This juxtaposition seems to imply that for many struggling working class people, such as the characters in the film and the man in “The Bicycle Thief,” engaging in illegal activities is necessary and ethical when there’s no other option.