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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
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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.Read more ›
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.
I also recommend the Movie on DVD.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 opinionPublished 16 months ago by marge Vande Hei
'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 morePublished 19 months ago by sevencrystalballs
The first time I saw the movie I loved every thing .... the subject.... the characters ........ the music.... the photography. Read morePublished 20 months ago by maria micaela
Great movie! I recommend it. This film would make a nice gift for anyone that appreciates international films with a great story.Published 21 months ago by Paul C Breden Jr
A visual feast and faithful adaptation of a lyrical read. If you liked the book, you'll love the film. 2 thumbs up.Published 21 months ago by Corbett Gordon
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
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 morePublished on January 1, 2014 by Jerilyn A. Thurlow