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Movie Review: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Alternate Title: Reading is Fundamental

Story: China's cultural revolution of the 1970's displaced and split up millions of families in order to re-educate the free thinkers, professionals and anyone who disagreed with the policies of Chairman Mao and the Party.

Director Dai Siljie based the film on his best selling novel which was semi-autobiographical.Both the film and the novel have been banned in China, yet surprisingly, they allowed him to film there. Go figure?

It is a slow, yet beautifully filmed movie about two intellectual boys who have been relocated from the City and their decadent parents in order to be re-educated in the mountains of rural China. They become miners, dung carriers and general laborers.

What happens to them, who they meet, how they influence the rural, ignorant peasants and grow is the core of the film. The little seamstress plays a major role both as love interest and proof that knowledge sets you free.

If you read the book I encourage you to see the film. The landscape is breathtaking. Sadly, this is the area of China that has since been flooded to create huge dams for their ever-growing population.

Acting: Fine acting all around.

Predilection: I bought the book several years ago because I liked the cover art. It turned out that I loved the book too.

Critters: Livestock

Visual Art: The landscape is just like those wonderful narrative paintings that you can see in any Asian wing in a museum.

Theater Audience: I saw this over a month ago, and do not remember this detail.

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: It needed some editing and the ending came too fast and furious.

Big Screen or Rental: Go for the big screen for the beauty of China.

Length: Two hours.