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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2005)

1 rating: 5.0
Art House & International movie directed by Sijie Dai

Breath-taking, funny, erotic and altogether bewitching!" - ELLE MAGAZINE "A jewel of a movie!" - WASHINGTON POST "Sweet, funny, sad and profound!"- SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE "Exquisite! A love song to great literature."- … see full wiki

Director: Sijie Dai
1 review about Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress...

The Intricacies of the Cultural Revolution in China

  • Jun 21, 2006
Sijie Dai's semi autobiographical novel BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS is one of those little miracles of a film that lingers in the mind and heart long after the credits are over. Sijie Dai wrote the screenplay, cast the film and directed his story about the changes that occurred in Communist China in such a way that the full spectrum of 'revolution' is appreciated without polarizing the audience.

The time is 1971 and the city bourgeois children are sent to the rural areas for re-education in to the mindset of Socialism and the glory of Chairman Mao. Among these are two young boys - Luo (Kun Chen), son of a dentist and a scholar who loves to read, and Ma (Ye Liu) who also loves learning and is an able violinist. The boys arrive in the picturesque but illiterate commune run by the Chief (Shuangbao Wang) who takes away all of their city possessions except for Ma's violin (Ma and Luo convince the Chief that the music of Mozart is in honor of Chairman Mao!). The boys adjust to the rigors of hard labor, mix with the rural folk and the other boys being reeducated - Four Eyes (Hong Wei Wang) secretly hides classic books and is befriended by the boys - as well as the venerated Old Tailor (Zhijun Cong) and his delightful granddaughter Little Chinese Seamstress (Xun Zhou). The boys bond with her and read to her, her favorite author being Balzac who reminds her of her dreams of the world beyond her Phoenix mountain. The admixture of the city people with the peasants is beautifully realized as they become one group but retain their own inherited dreams. Luo falls in love with the Little Chinese Seamstress (and so does Ma) and the three experience the beauty of nature and music and literature until circumstances force their separation. We then see what happens to the trio twenty years later and the secrets of their time together have major impact on their lives.

Dai draws profoundly moving performances from his cast, especially the central trio, and his story is enhanced by the spectacular cinematography by Jean-Marie Dreujon and the especially fine musical score by Pujian Wang who composes music in the idiomatic Chinese vein and blends it with a lot of Mozart and other Western composers creating a memorable score. Few of us understand the changes in philosophy that accompanied the Chinese Communist Cultural Revolution and this story and film offer an enchanting view of how the human spirit can survive almost any obstacle when it is married to friends, to literature and to music. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, June 06

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