Dai Sijie directs Balzac et La Petite Tailleuse Chinoise (The Little Chinese Seamstress), a film adaptation of his own best-selling autobiographical novel. Set in China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1970s, the story follows Luo (Chen Kun) and Ma (Liu Ye), two young men from the city who are sent to a mountain village for a re-education in Maoist principles. They work with the peasants under the supervision of the village head man (Wang Shuangbao), who considers their violin to be a symbol of the bourgeoisie. Luo and Ma both fall in love with the little Chinese seamstress (Ziiou Xun), the daughter of the tailor (Chung Zhijun), and they read her forbidden works of Western literature including French writers Balzac and Dumas. The conclusion finds the two men reminincing about their experiences 30 years later. Balzac et La Petite Tailleuse Chinoise premiered at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi
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Exotic and then some, the French/Chinoise BALZAC & THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS offers an unusual time, place and characters that few films can match: 1970s China, during the Red Guard cultural revolution. It takes place in a gloriously beautiful mountain region where the impact of the Red Guards was lessened by the far-off location and the lack of sophistication of the indigenous people. Consequently, what happens to the two young men who arrive here from the city for re-education--and the lovely young seamstress they become involved with--is less extreme and costly in some ways, while more so in others. I dont recall another movie in which the introduction of art and culture to a people deprived of it has rung out with such resonance & joy. Its message applies as much to eastern as western civilizations, to Communist, socialist or capitalist societies: Force feed your people a diet of confined ideas & they will find a way to expand it--usually, and unsurprisingly, via art.
From the fantastic scenery to the subtle love scenes this movie takes you breath away. A wonderful colaboraton between the French and the Chinese that opens up a window into life in China and tells an interesting tale as well.
I enjoy foreign movies for its storytelling, scenery, and culture. This movie did not disappoint. The story focused on life during the Maoist revolution, but took place in a remote mountain village. The feeling of conformity and oppression was evident, but the three main characters seemed isolated from the pressures. A lot of movies from China seem tragic, but this one was an interesting and beautiful historical perspective.