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In 1971 China, in the lingering grip of the cultural revolution, two university students, Luo and Ma, are sent to a mountain mining village as part of their reeducation duty to purge them of their classical western oriented education. Amid the backbreaking work and stifling ignorance of the community, the two boys find that music, and the presence of the beautiful local young women are the only pleasant things in their miserable life. However, none compare to the young seamstress granddaughter of the local tailor. Stealing a departing student's secret cache of forbidden books of classic western literature such as the works of Honore de Balzac, they set about to woo her and teach her things she had never imagined. In doing so, they start a journey that would profoundly change her perspective on her world and teach the boys about the power of literature and their own ability to change their world in truly revolutionary ways. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Sijie Dai's wonderful novel, "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" was a joy to read. The author, who one thinks must live in France, made it possible for people that haven't read the book to see it as a motion picture that captures the spirit of the novel.
The action takes place in the China of the Red Brigades. As they swept the country, they wanted to rid of all foreign influence in their culture because it was perceived as a threat to the system. Among the people that fell prey to the hysteria of those days, two young city young men were apprehended and sent to a remote area by the magical Phoenix mountains to start work in one of the mines in the area as part of their reeducation, or brain washing process.
Young Luo and Ma, can't do without their beloved books and the violin that one of them played. Suddenly, these two young men are once again seen as a threat to their small community which is dominated by a man with a small mind who sees evil everywhere. The young men are appalled when they discover that most of the people around them are illiterate. Thus begins a series of readings from the classical books, mostly French, and the young men disguise as coming from another source.
When the tailor for the area arrives with his little assistant, both Luo and Ma can't help in falling in love for her. Only one of them will be successful in being loved back by the beautiful young woman.
The film is beautiful to watch. The impressive backdrop to the story serves as a distraction, at times, into this majestic area of China. The director has achieved a magic moment for the viewer by capturing beautiful images about a place at the end of the world.
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