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Eve and the Fire Horse

DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Product Description

Eve, a precocious nine year-old with an overactive imagination, was born in the year of the Fire Horse, notorious among Chinese families for producing the most troublesome children. When her older sister Karena becomes fascinated with Christianity, crucifixes pop up next to the Buddha in the family’s house and Eve must contend with a Sunday school class where her wild imagination is distinctly out of place. Caught between her sister’s quest for premature sainthood and her own sense of right and wrong, Eve faces the challenges of childhood with fanciful humour and wide-eyed wonder. Sometimes the most troublesome children are the ones that touch our hearts most deeply.

Review

"Absolutely enthralling" -- Greg Buium, CBC

"Sparkles with visual Magic!" -- TORONTO SUN

“Luminous!  Intelligent, delicate and touching…One of the most beloved films at Sundance” -- Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The price of a small tree June 12 2008
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
In my view, one of the wonders of Nature is the child actor. Having raised two of my own, the idea that a child will accept direction is novel enough. That children can respond, showing dazzling talent doing so, is little short of miraculous. Julia Kwan's ability to maneuver the two children of this film bespeaks either superior talents, or theirs. Likely both. A stunning film exercise, with disturbing questions asked throughout, this is a fine example of the innovative filmmaker's art.

The story tells of a Chinese family, not yet a generation as immigrants in Vancouver. The matriarch is a kindly Grandma, who clearly dotes on the younger daughter, Eve. The older sister, Karena, remains distant, but the two sisters enjoy each other's company, as the opening scenes convey. Buddhist and Confucian traditions are a major element in all their lives, but the outside world looms increasingly close. The almost stereotypical example is the family's communication in the house, with the girls directing comments in English to the parents, who respond in Chinese. Kwan is meticulous in handling that first cross-cultural inroad. The girls, of course, attend an English speaking school, not a Chinese-language one.

A crisis, prompted by May Lin's (the children's mother) cutting down an apple tree, arises with the death of Grandma, which prompts questions of what happens in the afterlife. In Buddhist tradition, the dead may reappear on the seventh day, and sure enough, Grandma is seen by Eve, but by nobody else in the family. Reincarnation, a fundamental facet of Asian societies, leads Eve's mother, played by the stunning Vivian Wu, to bring Eve a goldfish. The manifestation of Grandma in the fish will be hilarious to a Western audience, but has serious meaning for Eve.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Like "My Life as a Dog," "Eve and the Fire Horse" presents a view of the world from a child's perspective. While "Eve" is not quite as poignant as Lasse Hallstrom's classic film in its depictions of childhood, "Eve" is the only other film I can think of that rises to the same level of artistry. That in itself is high praise. But what distinguishes "Eve" from "My Life," is that the movie ambitiously tackles the greater theme of childhood spirituality, and with great success. While Hallstrom's movie represents a triumph of humanism, properly considered, Shum's film represents a triumph of faith.

As the previous reviewer mentioned, this film portrays two girls' spiritual journey from Confucianism/Buddhism to Christianity/Catholicism. What sets this film apart from many other religious films is that all religions and religious people are presented sympathetically. What sets this film apart from most secular films is that all of the characters are presented lovingly, sympathetically and fairly. There are no caricatures in this film. This is strikingly evident in the scene where the girls encounter two door-to-door Protestant evangelists who introduce the girls to Jesus. Thankfully, the typical, cynical, anti-fundamentalist joke never comes. The evangelists are simply presented as two men sincerely interested in sharing their love for Jesus.

This "chance" (really, providential) encounter with followers of Jesus awakens the heart of the older sister, who is obviously pre-disposed toward accepting an explicit call to the faith; what Catholics would call "actual grace." We see the action of this grace unfold in the sisters' lives in confused, profound and tender ways. Most of the film regards the girls' spiritual development and its effect on the people surrounding them.
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I own more than 2,500 DVDs related in some way to kids, and this one has to be among the top three from a traditional values, people of faith point of view. It is also at the top from a cultural point of view. This is the story of two sisters living in a Chinese community within Vancouver, Canada. It gives an excellent picture of the minds of young girls raised within a Buddhist faith as they encounter the beliefs of Christianity, in this case Catholicism. Some of the doctrines the movie presents as Catholic are somewhat lacking; however, it must be remembered that the movie is told from the point of view of the younger sister. At some points I laughed out loud at the girl's interpretation of a doctrine or dogma (and, after seeing thousands of movies, I rarely find anything new that is that truly amusing)!

Although this movie is not sold as a 'Christian movie,' if I was going to make a movie with a Christian message, this is the way I would do it. First, it is notably respectful of Buddhism, but it does make extremely subtle comparisons with Christianity. For example, the girl's mother at one point says that she meditates for hours, staring at a single point on the wall, then wonders why she can't experience the simple faith of her two little girls with their childish understanding of Catholicism.

Part of the climax of this movie is a scene where the girls decide Eve need to be baptized. Eve feels that many of the unpleasant things that have happened to her family is because she told a lie. So, the sisters decide to do it in the bath tub. I won't say what actually happens (I'll save it for you to see!
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