Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tuya de Hun Shi (Tuya’s Marriage)

This is a magnificent film by Quan’an Wang with a great story that is light drama and an extremely nice romance with some humorous moments. Set in the heart of Chinese Mongolia tells the story of young and beautiful Tuya, married to cripple Bater and taking care of her two children and everything else shepherds have to do when living in remote grasslands.

The story is one of the most interesting I have seen in art movies set in remote and isolated places as basically is about love and survival. Living with a cripple husband with her doing all the chores and the doctor telling her that she no longer can do hard work, Tuya and Barter decide to divorce so she can marry again to a healthy man. After the divorce Tuya is determined to keep her ex-husband with her, which of course does not please any of the many suitors that came to ask her in marriage.

But then, love may be closer than what she imagined and finally she finds love and a new husband that accepts the ex-husband living with them. But not all is easy and the quite dramatic end proves this fact.

Very nice cinematography with outstanding views of Mongolian grasslands that remind me of the recent Mongolian movie I saw and as the director of that movie, Wang did this movie not only because his mother was born close to where he filmed but because he wanted to show and record a lifestyle that is about to disappear forever thanks to strong industrialization efforts.

Staring Yu Nan as Tuya she delivers an impeccable performance and this is the third collaboration between Nan and Wang as they also did 1999 Yue Shi (Lunar Eclipse) and 2004 Jing Zhe (The Story of Ermei). All other actors are non-professionals.

As I find quite appalling the following story I’m sharing it with you. A non-professional actor plays Barter, Tuya’s first husband, that when the filming of this movie was over the Chinese government force he and his family to abandon his house and land. They had to leave so the government can exploit above and below his land. Where the movie was filmed and where the man was living belong to a part of Mongolia that is rich in coal, natural gas and minerals. This true story helped me to understand the terrible reason why a thousands years old culture is about to disappear forever.

The movie has been winning great accolades and honors in festivals around the world, the latest in the Chicago Film Festival where Wang won the Silver Hugo and Yu Nan the Best Actress Award; the first win was in the 2007 Berlinale where it won the Golden Bear.

This is what we westerners tend to consider art cinema because of the slow pace, the cinematography and other film technical aspects, but in this case and because there is a very attention grabber love and survival story I think can have wider audiences, if viewers can endure the slow beginning and wait until the story picks up to not stop until the end.

This is a movie I waited a long time to be able to see it, but the wait was truly worth it and I do strongly recommend it.


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