Monday, September 24, 2007

Huozhe (To Live)

Revisiting a movie is always done when you have seen it not long ago and want to see more details among many other things; but revisiting a movie you saw many years ago and have good memories about it, it is sometimes risky as the movie does not change, but you do.

This was not the case with this classic and epic movie that today was as splendid as the first time I saw it. This 1994 Zhang Yimou film tells the story of a family and follows them from the 40’s, the 50’ and the 60’s and into some years later. While telling the story of the family you learn the story of a country in those key decades of change in China.

Based on the novel by Yu Hua that was born during the Cultural Revolution and directed by Zhang Yimou that was a teenager when the Cultural Revolution broke, this film has the best of two different visions about the history of China and the result is a tale that moves slowly telling the family story and fast to tell how society was, started to change and continuously kept changing.

Outstanding performances by Ge You and Gong Li that play the husband and wife who find a path for survival and they do survive loss of wealth, poverty, happiness, sorrow and most important all the transcendental changes Chinese society had in those decades. Worth mentioning are the spectacular and mesmerizing puppet shows that will delight your eyes.

This classic won the Grand Prize of the Jury and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury for Zhang Yimou, and the Best Actor for You Ge in the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, also the film was nominated for the Golden Palm. Won the 1995 BAFTA for Best Film not in the English Language and had a nomination in the 1995 Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film. Gong Li had a nomination for Best Actress in the 1995 Chlotrudis Awards.

This is a masterpiece that everyone has to see at least once and if you saw it years ago, I suggest you revisit it again; if you are just discovering Zhang Yimou, then this is one that you cannot miss

At the end I think that all Zhang Yimou movies can be seen several times in different periods of your life and still enjoy them as much (if not more with age) as the first time you saw them.


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