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Lan Feng Zheng.1993.Zhuangzhuang Tian

December.8.2009

This is a story of a young boy from the time of his pre-birth to his pre-teenage years in Beijing during the 1950’s to the 1960’s. And a great story it is, in fact it was banned in Mainland China due to its scenes and contents that depict the sadder part of this country. As we’ve been bombarded by kung-fu films that something as real as this is still not accepted from a socialist country.

That is the main reason why this film has an impact in Asian cinema. It felt like the portrayal of the family is just a way to show the real China fifty to sixty years ago. I mean it would be nice if we would just read a history book for this country but, and of course, it would be nicer if a Chinese, Zhuangzhuang Tian, the director, provides us their own P.O.V.

The story is quite disheartening. A father leaves the family for work, an uncle gains disease, and a stepfather is disgraced. All through the eyes of a boy named Tietou.

You wouldn’t even notice that this film is about the life of the boy. You’d feel it better with the mother who receives the pain in their lives for the most obvious reason. Eventually you’ll just see the film grow and with the boy at the side you’ll see that it wasn’t easy living in China during those days. I mean I get stories from my mother all of the time, and the years for this film were the heydays of our country in terms of music, life, and such. Yes, before Martial Law.

I guess there are a lot of ups and downs in a socialist country. Take one scene for instance; one of the neighbors was able to cook a bountiful of rice cakes. Then, one of the leaders accused her of acquiring the flour from the black market ergo taking the rice cakes from them without getting any justices involved. And the leader just told her that we’re not going to eat those anyway, we’re just setting an example to the community.

That was what made this film controversial, the scenes didn’t show the boy but it demonstrated the life in China before and it was quite interesting but not amusing to us, the audience.

The film is really about the patriarchal life of the boy in three chapters. But it seems that the movie is about the mother, the country after all; and with a blue kite representing the hopes of the boy.

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