Staff rating

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Star_onStar_onStar_onStar_on 4.0 4.0 from 1 reviews
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Sijie dreamily adapts his own autobiographical novel depicting life in a remote Chinese mountain village in 1971. City boys Luo (Chen) and Ma (Liu) are sent to be re-educated under Mao's Cultural Revolution. The young men perform manual labor under the watchful eyes of the village chief (Wang) and both become attracted to the nameless young woman (Zhou) of the title, reading to her from a secreted cache of Western books (including Balzac, Flaubert, and Dumas) and teaching her to read and write. There is eventual separation and loss and an abrupt epilogue that shows the men 20 years later wondering whatever happened to the girl they once knew. Mandarin and French with subtitles.

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Available on Running time 111 minutes. Originally from Chinese, French.

Cast and Crew

Biopics: Politics, China, Period Piece: 1970s, Romantic Drama, Romantic Triangles, Abortion, Communists & Communism
Dai Sijie, Nadine Perront
Liu Ye, Wang Hongwei, Ziiou Xun, Chen Kun, Wang Shuangbao, Chung Zhijun
Jean-Marie Drejou
Dai Sijie
Wang Pujian
Wu Lala, Nilas Nacgelen, Luc Barnier, Julia Gregory, Tong Huamiao, Cao Jumping
Lise Fayolle, TF-1 Films, Bac Distribution

Visitor Reviews

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Star_onStar_onStar_onStar_on 4.0 4.0

An invaluably sad but exceptionally beautiful work of art realistically depicting instability and mutability of all things in modern life. It's inevitably fluid like nature of human evolution between one époque to another influenced by new trends of individualism, nuclear family and globalisation in particular in this story. All these evolutions comes at a terrible costs to stability of our emotional life and collapse of traditional sense of community, almost always followed by a devastatingly painful separation. I can feel ethereal touch of Author's remnant filial love to his mother country China. It is easy to see that the Author was torn between his deep seated love for old China before the cultural revolution and Ambition for prosperity on his chosen land (France) at the moment of his life time decision making. This is something that not many understand unless you are forced to leave from your homeland and love ones for a cause. I have left Japan , Kyoto and a noble born beloved fiancée along with almost all things I perceived exquisite at that time for an ambitious cause. Now I am in a terrible state of homesick. Sentimentalism is further augmented by an outstanding soundtracks with his genius touch in a perfect synchronisation with emotion portrayed in screenplay. Since I have played harpsichord continuo accompaniment part of George Frederick Handle's tragic operas such as Alcina, Otone and Radamisto for student soprano singers during rehearsals in the past, I can readily feel Author's masterful quality of refined artistic mind in every scene. Author must be someone who understands classical and baroque music quite well. Pachelbel, Haendel, Scarlatti and Albinoni in particular. This is a second film that I bought for my collection of Dai Sijie's works. I am also a fan of Les Filles du Botaniste. It is such a sad film but exquisite work of art. I must admit that he is a genius of screenplay depicting moments of such a painful separation and innate strength of women. Every young woman has dreams of being swept up into a great adventure, of being the beautiful princess. Lamentably, when women grow up, they are often swept up into a life filled merely with demands, duty and responsibility. Many women are tired, struggling under the merciless pressure to be of a faithful servant, or a caregiver for children, husband or authoritarian father as seen in Les Filles du Botaniste. Who else can reproduce the sentiment so vividly on the screen with such poetic touch today? Perhaps no one else but refined humanist Director Dai Sijie! Julien Kujo, Palo Alto, California