Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress

Touching memoir of Chinese Cultural Revolution

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Set during the ’70s in one of Mao’s “re-education” camps, director Dai Sijie’s film follows the fortunes of two teenagers, Luo and Ma, both from an educated background, whose middle-class parents have been branded bourgeois and degenerate. They manage to evade the worst excesses of the autocratic camp chief by taking advantage of his politically myopic, anti-bourgeois outlook?they play him a Mozart violin piece, explaining that it is a contemporary folk tune in praise of Karl Marx. By such means, they keep alive their clandestine interest in Western culture. Both fall in love with the granddaughter of the village tailor, introducing her to the joys of Balzac.

Filmed in the vertiginous beauty of the Sichuan Province, Balzac… would be a depressing account of the egregious dogma of Maoism if it weren’t amply redeemed by an indomitable spirit of humour and resourcefulness.


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