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To Live (Widescreen Subtitled Edition) (Bilingual) [Import]
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One of the best films of 1994, To Live is a bold, energetic masterpiece from Zhang Yimou, the foremost director from China's influential "fifth generation" of filmmakers. Continuing his brilliant collaboration with China's best-known actress Gong Li (their previous films include Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern), Zhang weaves an ambitious tapestry of personal and political events, following the struggles of an impoverished husband and wife (Ge You, Gong Li) from their heyday in the 1940s to the hardships that accompanied the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. They raise two children amidst a Communist regime, surviving numerous setbacks and yet managing, somehow, to live. Both intimate and epic, Zhang's film encompasses the simplest and most profound realities of Chinese life during this controversial period, and for their honesty, Zhang and Gong Li faced a two-year ban on future collaborations. To Live is a testament to their art, transcending politics to celebrate the tenacity of ordinary people in the wake of turbulent history. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
There are a series of life changing events that forms the troughs and crests of the protagonist's life. Each event shows the interplay of both chance and free-will. These events are: the roll of dice at the beginning of the movie, taking the box of puppets to make a living, the forcing of the main character's son to go and help the cadre, and the fixed marriage of the main character's daughter. I'll analyze these one at a time.
The roll of dice at the beginning of the movie has several results. The immediate effect is that Feng Gui (the story's protagonist) loses his family home and his family, both his nuclear and extended families. However, while this at first seems as though an unfortunate circumstance, the primary effect is that Feng Gui gives up gambling and recovers his relationship with his family. In fact, later in the story it becomes apparent that if he had not lost the farm, he would have been declared an evil landlord and sentenced to death. This plainly shows how things that may first appear to be unlucky are in fact lucky. There is also a subtle display of luck vs. free-will in that while luck determined that he lost at gambling, Feng Gui ultimately chose, of his own volition, to go on playing when his wife (the voice of reason) begged him to stop.
The second event, Feng Gui's taking the box of puppets to eke out a living, also shows how fate can play an important role in one's survival.Read more ›
Aside from the political overtones, this is also a masterful study of overcoming loss and adversity that transcends cultural or political boundaries. While my students almost invariably complain about the subtitles at the beginning of the showing, by the end, they have been completely drawn in, and are laughing and crying on cue. If this isn't the true test of a great flick, I don't know what is.
A masterpiece, and one that everyone should see.
Whether it is some knowledge of the cultural revolution you crave, or a basic poignant movie, just watch it instead of reading these reviews. In my book, this ranks right next to Yume or Farewell My Concubine as epics from the orient. Little can be *said* about this movie that would not be much better *felt* firsthand.
6 out of 5 stars.
The father and mother are just outstanding, and the story of their children is simply amazing -- the daughter "Fengxia" is wonderfully portrayed. The people are all so sweet really.
I highly recommend his movie because it tells the struggles of this family so well, you care about them and hope they survive all the changes happening around them.
The acting is first rate, and gets a wonderful taste of China's recent history.
The storytelling is so well done, and you care about the family so much; the tragic parts are extremely hard to watch.
Most recent customer reviews
L'envoi a été rapide et soigné. Merci beaucoup! C'est juste dommage qu'il n'y ait pas de version française disponible...
This film completely butchers, rearranges, and rewerites an incredibly moving novel. I suggest that you read the book first.Published on March 29 2004 by C. M. Pritchard
To Live is a masterful project and deserves the best praises for foreign cinema. It touches every emotion possible in its depiction of one family's faults and successes; life as... Read morePublished on March 27 2004 by vannie osborne
IT IS A GOOD MOVIE ,YOU HAVE TO SEE.I WISH YOU LIKE ITPublished on Feb. 18 2004 by IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE
This is among the greatest of Asian films. It received two Cannes Film Festival awards (Grand Jury Prize and Best Actor). Its director has been previously nominated for an Oscar. Read morePublished on Dec 25 2003 by E. Chu
To Live is the best Chinese film I have ever seen. It gives a wonderful view of modern Chinese history, with as honest a perspective as can be hoped for. Read morePublished on Dec 21 2003 by Shelly Bryant
This film is perhaps one of my favorites of all time. It is nothing short of beautiful, tragic, inspiring and extremely involving. Read morePublished on Dec 6 2003 by J. H. I.
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