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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2005)

Xun Zhou , Kun Chen , Sijie Dai  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

List Price: $26.98
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Product Details

  • Actors: Xun Zhou, Kun Chen, Ye Liu, Shuangbao Wang, Zhijun Cong
  • Directors: Sijie Dai
  • Writers: Sijie Dai, Nadine Perront
  • Producers: Bernard Lorain, Lise Fayolle, Pujian Wang, Wang Zhebin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Cantonese, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: November 29, 2005
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,033 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Director’s Bio
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailers

Editorial Reviews

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."- LOS ANGELES TIMES Based on the best-selling novel set during China’s cultural revolution, this acclaimed film is about two young men, university students, who are sent to a remote mountain village for a Maoist re-education, to purge them of their decadent Western education. Amid the back-breaking work and stifling ignorance of the community, the local beauties are the only respite from their miserable life. But none compare to the granddaughter of the region’s tailor. With a secret cache of forbidden books, they set about to woo her.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Mozart Is Thinking of Chairman Mao" February 23, 2006
By A Customer
Set against the startling backdrop of China's mountainous regions, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress takes place during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, where the government was intent on reeducating those intellectuals, artists and political dissenters. Filmmaker Dai Sijie has created a dreamy memory of hardship and adversity - part familiar Chinese parable, part familiar French romance - in which love of the radiantly beautiful, remote Chinese landscape outlasts bitterness at the Mao era's blinkered commitment to intellectual ignorance.

Two teenage friends, Ma and Luo (the attractive Ye Liu and Kun Chen), toil away in a mountain village, children of disgraced intellectuals. As part of their reeducation, they lug human waste up a mountaintop, push rocks in a mine, and occasionally visit a nearby town to watch North Korean films, which they then act out for their less mobile comrades.

Life for them is pretty boring, and they soon tire of the work, but they're smart enough to know that the whole thing is somewhat farcical, but also smart enough to go along with the program. A new world opens up for them when they discover that another young man sent for re-education has a stash of forbidden books - mostly 19th-century European and Russian novels - hidden in his hut.

They also two fall in love with a young girl (Xun Zhou) from a neighboring village and woo her by reading to her from the forbidden books. The young seamstress shows an instant affinity to Balzac in particular, and as Ma reads her the stories from the 19th century, the girl. the most appealing aspect of the movie is the romantic notion that books can change lives. Luo and Ma's interest seems as much the result of intellectual curiosity as it is an appreciation of Balzac's storytelling abilities.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abolutely Authentic Film Version of the Novel January 9, 2006
The author of the novel is an intellectual who was forced to live in a labor camp from 1971- 1974...the end of the Cultural Revolution. He is also a filmmaker and therefore he filmed his own novel. This combination is rare... so we witness an outstanding visualization of his book. It is a very interesting film with some breathtaking photography and engaging music. It depicts the influence of listening to great literature upon the mind of an impressionable, intelligent girl peasant/seamstress who ultimately needs to explore her options beyond the narrow confines of country life. (Personally, I thought that
the theme of literature's enlivening influence is even better treated in the wonderful book - "Reading Lolita in Tehran"). I could not quite give the movie five stars because there are
more moving Chinese films of the cultural revolution, e.g.
Gong Li in the masterpiece "To Live." Nevertheless, foreign film addicts will not be disappointed when they buy this DVD.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insight February 27, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
After traveling in China for 5 weeks and then reading this excellent book, I really could relate to it. Especially after talking to people in China about the effects of the "Cultural Revolution" this book had an excellent inside.

I also recommend the Movie on DVD.

J. Hesse
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Floats Timelessly September 6, 2006
Director Dai Sijie whose newest film is similarly titled "The Chinese Botanist's Daughters" directed this beautiful tale. Set against the context of the Cultural Revolution, it nevertheless presents it in a way that does not seem ominous or threatening, perhaps the opposite approach of Gao Xingjian's novel "One Man's Bible." Ziou Xun played the Chinese Seamstress in her 5th film, which included "Beijing Bicycle." Her performance as the naive rural girl whose mind is less concerned with political orthodoxy than having a good time. The two boys sent to the country for re-education are Luo & Ma. Both are played by actors in their first films. Chen Kun as the good looking dentist's son Luo has now also made "The Music Box" (2006). Liu Ye who played Ma, the violinist, has gone on to work with Lou Ye in "Purple Butterfly," "The Foliage," "Jasmine Woman," "The Promise," & "Dark Matter." Both actors convey a range of emotions from loneliness at separation from their families to bonding with each other and falling in love with Ziou Xun. Wang Shurangbao does a nice job as the chief whose tooth gets filled by Luo. Chung Zhijun also does a nice job as the tailor, the Seamstress' grandfather. Fan Qing Yun fills his cameo as the doctor who performs an abortion and then buys Ma's violin. The film was nominated as best Foreign Language film by the Golden Globes in 2002 & the National Board of Review in 2005. The cinematography is gorgeous as the mountain settings, the cave and streams are beautifully photographed. The end underwater sequence seems to let the experience float timelessly. This is an excellent film, not to be missed. Bravo!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique, lovely and inspiring movie July 19, 2006
By Tintin
I have seen this movie quite a few times now. It is like a temporary sanctuary shielding me from say the loud-mouthed so-called comedian on TV. No high drama, no yelling and screaming, it is not an epic about the Cultural Revolution (nor is "To Live", though "To Live" tried. You should hit the books or documentaries if you really want to learn about the Cultural Revolution.) With unpretentious acting, breathtaking cinematography, beautiful music and poetic dialogs, this movie is about how civilization's best creations can transcend life.

It is also one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. How often do you get to hear country bumpkins from backwater China quote Balzac, chant "Ursule Mirouet!", and discuss sagebrush branch as a better cure for malaria than willow branch (not to be administered the usual way medicines are, mind you)? The story unfolds like a fable, sometimes surreal, but there is such simplicity to the storytelling and sincerity in the acting, that it feels believable. (It IS semi-biographical after all.) It will make even an old cynic want to read Balzac, Dumas and Kipling, and yearn for something more from life. Truly wonderful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars read with my book club, interesting how we all ...
read with my book club, interesting how we all took a different view on the ending, wonder what the author meant it to be, however we all our own opinion
Published 3 days ago by marge Vande Hei
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie
No problems at all. I love this movie.
Published 1 month ago by Orlin Yoder
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful 're-education'!
'Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress' is a story of two young men sent from city to the Chinese countryside for 're-education' by Red Guards during Mao's infamous Cultural... Read more
Published 3 months ago by sevencrystalballs
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent movie which I have enjoyed several times.
The first time I saw the movie I loved every thing .... the subject.... the characters ........ the music.... the photography. Read more
Published 4 months ago by maria micaela
5.0 out of 5 stars Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Great movie! I recommend it. This film would make a nice gift for anyone that appreciates international films with a great story.
Published 5 months ago by Paul C Breden Jr
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little sleeper
A visual feast and faithful adaptation of a lyrical read. If you liked the book, you'll love the film. 2 thumbs up.
Published 5 months ago by Corbett Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars "I know nothing about style. I like Balzac. I can't help it!"
{4.5 stars}

In Communist China, 1971, two close friends, Luo and Ma, are forcibly relocated to a remote southern region of the country because of their... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Doug Park
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!
As a teacher who has just recently used this book for the first time with my class, I was delighted to find that there is a movie version. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jerilyn A. Thurlow
5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew what the impact would be?
The Cultural Revolution of Mao sent two educated youths to a small and very isolated village for re-education. Read more
Published 14 months ago by EA, South America
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good Chinese love story correct to the period of the cultural...
This is a well done Chinese movie. It is easy to follow with the quality subtitles. I would reccomend this movie to any one that enjoys Chinese culture that is true to life.
Published 14 months ago by RDE1911
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