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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011)

Bingbing Li , Gianna Jun , Wayne Wang  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan + The Joy Luck Club + Memoirs of a Geisha (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Bingbing Li, Gianna Jun, Vivian Wu, Russell Wong, Archie Kao
  • Directors: Wayne Wang
  • Writers: Angela Workman, Lisa See, Michael Ray, Ronald Bass
  • Producers: Andrew Loo, Craig Shilowich, Florence Sloan
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • DVD Release Date: November 1, 2011
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005KG4CUS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,531 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" on IMDb

Special Features

The Sworn Sisterhood of the Secret Fan
Theatrical Trailer

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Joy Luck Club director Wayne Wang contrasts the lives of two women in the present with two women in the past in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Sophia (Gianna Jun), who hails from Korea, enjoys spending time with Nina (Bingbing Li) in 1990s Shanghai, though her uptight stepmother considers the latter a bad influence. Through Sophia's liberal aunt (Vivian Wu), the girls find out about Snow Flower and Lily, two laotongs, or "sisters for life," from the 1820s (played by the same actresses). Despite their class differences, the Hunan girls bond as they undergo rituals from foot-binding to arranged marriages, but Lily's mother-in-law interferes with their friendship, much like Sophia's stepmother (their contemporary versions squeeze their feet into designer heels). Typhoid and rebellion proceed to ravage their families, just as the stock market crash causes a similar effect centuries later. As adults, Nina and Sophia drift apart after a misunderstanding (concerning Hugh Jackman's nightclub owner), but an accident brings them back together, reflecting the rift that divided the 19th-century friends. Throughout, Wang shifts back and forth between eras, emphasizing the freedoms Chinese women have gained over the years, which brings The Joy Luck Club to mind, since both movies sprang from novels about female relationships, but Snow Flower isn't as much of a tearjerker. It's absorbing and attractively shot, but frequently too restrained. Wang directs with compassion, but the film could use more heat. In the featurette, he and author Lisa See talk about the origins of the story. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Product Description

From the director of The Joy Luck Club, and based on the best-selling novel, comes a timeless portrait of female friendship. Centuries ago, two “sworn sisters” are isolated by their families, but stay connected through a secret language written in the folds of a white silk fan. Now in modern-day Shanghai, their descendents must draw inspiration from the past as they struggle to maintain their own eternal bond in the face of life’s complications. What unfolds are two stories, generations apart, but everlasting in their universal notion of love, hope and friendship.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I Wrap, I Bind" ~ Exploring The Depth Of Sisterly Love November 4, 2011
Format:DVD
Let me begin by saying I have not read Lisa See's book upon which this film is based, hence I'm not in the category of other reviewers who disliked this movie primarily because of its deviation from the novel. Translating a work of art from one medium to another is a difficult task at the very least and it comes as no surprise to discover that a person who loves something in one medium is seldom pleased with its appearance in another. Personally I think a film should be judged solely on its own merits, like it or dislike it for what it is, not for what you thought or hoped it would be.

Having said that I would like to convey how much I loved this film. Director Wayne Wang instilled `Snow Flower and the Secret Fan' with the same depth of emotion and sensitivity that made his `Joy Luck Club' such a moving and memorable viewing experience.

The storyline moves neatly back and forth between two sets of Chinese women living in different times (Lily and Snow Flower in 1829 China, Nina and Sophia in present day Shanghai). Though time and place differ, the shared cultural and spiritual bonds formed by their mutual `vows of sisterhood' are identical and timeless. Bingbing Li plays the parts of both Lily and Nina and Gianna Jun the dual roles of Snow Flower and Sophia. Both story lines are engaging but clearly the Snow Flower and Lily tale is the more important of the two. Nevertheless the present day friendship between Nina and Sophia is essential to the intent of the film, providing not only context to the earlier friendship but a cultural bridge between past, present and future. In other words, while everything around us is constantly changing what's really important in life remains the same.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fails to capture the gentle nuances found in the book December 2, 2011
Format:Amazon Instant Video
Having read and loved Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle), I was looking forward to watching the movie adaptation. I missed the theatrical run, and so waited patiently for it come out on DVD. Unfortunately, this is a terrible adaptation of a heartbreakingly beautiful work, taking too many artistic liberties, and butchering the story in such a manner as to render it incomprehensible to those who read and loved the book. If you watch this movie without having read the book, then it might appeal on some level, but to those who savored the detailed descriptions of traditions in 19th century China, and the close bond between the two central characters, i.e. Snow Flower and Lily, this movie seems such an aberration and I truly felt let down.

The movie takes a different approach than the novel in that it has two parallel story lines - one set in the present featuring two young women who are kindred spirits, but whose friendship is eventually strained by conflicting ideas regarding relationships, lifestyle, etc. On the same day that she receives news that she has a job opportunity in New York, Nina (Li BingBing) receives news that her estranged best friend, Sophia (Gianna Jun) has been in an accident and is in hospital. As Nina goes through Sophia's things at the hospital, she comes across a manuscript, parts of a story of two women in 19th century China, whose friendship mirror Nina and Sophia's own close bond.

The trouble is that this parallel storyline does not work - by dividing the story up into two disparate timelines, not much time is spent in developing the central characters.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read the book and still liked the movie... July 4, 2012
Format:DVD
Whoa, I'm a little suprised at all the hate for the movie here. This was one of the first times in a long time that I just watched a movie without looking up reviews first, a good choice I see now.

I read and completely loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, so I went into this movie with some expectations. Knowing this is a movie, however, I was ready for the artistic license. I was a little confused by the modern setting, but hey, let's get past the first 10 minutes before I start judging.

I actually liked that they paralleled the two stories of the women, modern and past. I suppose if you hadn't read the book the film would seem jumpy, so I see this as a visual supplement to the book in some ways. I can see where others may get confused with the relationship between Snow Flower and Lily (friends? Lovers?) but this is from a different era. They didn't enter the relationship that way and it is not described that way at all. They were each others comfort and in so many ways soul mates, but they were not sexual...

Anywho, read the book, enjoy it. Watch the movie...realize it is NOT the book verbatim, enjoy it too. It's not a travesty of an adaptation, it's an interesting, tear jerking, new take on a wonderful story.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By LH
Format:Amazon Instant Video
Let me start by saying that I haven't read the book, and no, it's still not a good movie. I am from China, and I happened to have received a university grant to study Nu Shu in Hunan Province over ten years ago with one of my best friends at the time - it was sort of our "laotong" experience, though we have since grown apart but that's another story. Just like "Joy Luck Club," this movie is made for non-Chinese viewers and has little to no authenticity and the characters were based so much on stereotypes. When I studied Nu Shu at the time, there was only one and a half people alive that could write Nu Shu - one woman and a male scholar who counted as a half person because Nu Shu was invented by and for women. So there is NO WAY that in modern days two high school girls could be writing notes back and forth in Nu Shu in Shanghai! And what is that aunt person who supposedly knew so much about Nu Shu and had the girls formalize a contract??? No, average people in modern Shanghai don't know anything about Nu Shu or laotong - it's something that is much more well-known outside China unfortunately.

Also, a note to the creators of the movie - CHINESE PEOPLE DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH TO EACH OTHER! Yes, Li Bingbing, who played one of the main leads, spoke English in that Jet Li and Jackie Chan movie "The Forbidden Kingdom", but that movie was at least set in America to begin with and has an American lead, so it's kind of understandable. But honestly I was thinking "WTF?" when the nurse called to tell about the accident in English. China is not India - we weren't colonized so that English became the official language. Some authenticity of Chinese people speaking Chinese would be nice!

And what drab dialogues!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great look at female friendships across time in Chinese culture! A...
Very interesting film! I enjoy learning about various cultures. I also like to learn what women had to endure in the past in various cultures. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Betty L. Durazo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Good book
Published 11 days ago by Ginny knoles
5.0 out of 5 stars SPORLER!!!!!!
...And, then, SHE wakes up.
Published 23 days ago by Emanuel Spivey Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great
Published 1 month ago by Javier
2.0 out of 5 stars So disappointed...
I loved Lisa See's book. It was so beautifully written. So I was really eager to see the movie. In my opinion, the adaptation ruined the story. Read more
Published 1 month ago by B. J. Taylor
3.0 out of 5 stars Not My Fav Book
Ok Read.
Published 1 month ago by Lori B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
This movie is so touching, because how this two girls, their friendship and becoming adults and what life brought them. Since their fate was chosen for them. So sad.
Published 1 month ago by Queen
4.0 out of 5 stars The untold Story behind True Friendships among Women
Snow Flower is visually lovely for the most part- provides a model for friendships - while it paints a disturbing canvas of a practice that forced women to remain in diminished... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pearl
4.0 out of 5 stars painful yet beautiful, just beautiful
I loved this film. There was just one thing I didn't care for and that was subtitles so I will watch this over and over until I memorize the dialogue or learn the language! Read more
Published 2 months ago by litchick
3.0 out of 5 stars Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
I liked the movie ok but it skipped some important facts from the book. The book was great however. Thanks.
Published 3 months ago by Nicole Guerin-Dykstra
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