Archive for November 29th, 2008

How wonderful!  It has French undertones, but a great story based on the lives of two young Chinese men being “re-educated” in the countryside during the 1970s.  I don’t know exactly if it’s a true story or not, but I’ve met a few who have migrated to the U.S.  They never talked about that period in their lives, so catching a glimpse of what it was like was fascinating to me.

One was the son of a famous dentist, whose time at his father’s side turned out to be useful.  He became the village dentist as a result.  The other was a student at a music school, whose talent at the violin was strong; he got away with playing it by saying all the classical European sonatas were a tribute to Chairman Mao.  The people at this village were after all, simple country folk who knew the land but were never taught to read or write.

The story is told about how these two young men set about to educate a young woman by reading her foreign books that they’ve stolen from someone else.  The first of these was Balzac, and it turned out to be life changing for the woman–something about how a woman’s looks is her most precious possession.  She fled the countryside after seeing that her life was no longer fulfilling.  Of course, she’d learned how to read  and write at this point.

Years later, both men were now respected practitioners in their own fields; one was a concert violinist in Paris, and the other was a noted professor of dentistry in Shanghai.  What brought them back together was the flooding of the town due to the creation of the Three Gorges Dam.  The musician returned to the village and looked for the seamstress to no avail.  He found out later that his friend had returned there lately, but had searched for the seamstress in the early 80s as well.  He found out that she had moved to Hong Kong by then, and the trail was cold with the passage of time.

The dentist had an affair with the seamstress as it turned out.  But he had known that the musician loved her as well.  The musician said it best at the end of the movie, “we both loved her in our own way”.

The movie has fantastic images and stories within stories.  A testament to the power of the human spirit, to find such optimism during a historically “dark” period.   I couldn’t do anything  else but watch the movie once it started.

Please watch it at the first opportunity.

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