Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
The movie of a Chinese director who currently lives in France, is the story from his childhood which took place in the past in the period of the Cultural Revolution in China. The movie based on the book written by the director of the picture, Dai Sijie, who had a goal to show that love to art, to literature is stronger than obtrusion of the communist cliché.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress in its first interpretation is a book, published by Gallimard in 2000. Written in French, the book has been translated into more than 25 languages, including Chinese, despite the difficult position of China vis-à-vis this period of its history. A film adaptation, also called Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, was released in 2002. Although the book was written in French, the film is played by Chinese actors. It was filmed in the mountains of Zhangjiajie, in Mao’s home province, Hunan. The city plans have been made in the ancient city of Fenghuang (the Phoenix). This film was released in many countries such as France and China, where it was made some modifications, due to Chinese censorship.
The story contents a lot of ironic episodes, funny dialogs and critical thinking about what is happening around the young people. At the early 70s in the midst of the “Cultural Revolution” two university students were sent to re-education in the remote mountain village. One took a violin, the other – a cookbook. Cooking was banned but the violin allowed to leave because “Mozart is always thinking of Chairman Mao”. Against the wishes of the communists, children growing was not influenced by the ideas of Mao, but under an atmosphere of bourgeois writers of novels of Balzac and Dumas. Found by chance, forbidden books helped to survive and sow the dream of another life in the most beautiful girl of the village – the illiterate daughter of the local tailor. The environment is the portraits of the “Great Helmsman” everywhere, who are watching on enemies of the nation, but reading of the foreign novels, banned by party, completely changes the outlook of seamstress and pushes her to the drastic changes in her own live. Thanks to the books, she has opened up new worlds.
Stunning mountain scenery homeland of Mao, not without irony, shows daily life of the Chinese hinterland, acquainting with its foundations, traditions and way of life. Symbolism accompanies the dialogues and set pieces. For example, violin and market town became the symbols of opposing against communism, the allegory of bourgeois culture. Uneducated commissar – communist, who does not know how to write, but thinks that he has the right to decide what can be read, and what should be banned – this hero ironically shows that even this dark in the culture man cannot fail to appreciate the beauty of Mozart’s music, nevertheless how it’s named. The land where developments are going is the spirit of changing, because even it will be changed by communist as the author’s life.
On a background of the eternal nature of the Yangtze River, that’s invariably and perfectly, youthful love is coloring the whole world in rainbow colors – that’s what recalls and aims to convey the director. But one day, while already abroad, one of the guys know that the Chinese government decided to “release” of water from the Yangtze banks and soon on the site of the village will be only water…
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