The Blue Kite (1993)
"Lan feng zheng" (original title)

 |  Drama  |  25 March 1994 (USA)
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On Dry Well Lane in Beijing in 1953, Chen Shujuan and Lin Shaolong marry. A year later their son, nicknamed Tietou (Iron Head), is born. The Party is everywhere: Mao's photograph, ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tian Yi ...
Tietou as an infant
Wenyao Zhang ...
Tietou as a child
Xiaoman Chen ...
Tietou as a teenager
Liping Lü ...
Chen Shujuan
Cunxin Pu ...
Lin Shaolong
Li Guodong (Uncle Li)
Baochang Guo ...
3rd husband
Ping Zong ...
Chen Shusheng
Quanzhong Chu ...
Chen Shuyan
Xiaoying Song ...
Hong Zhang ...
Zhu Ying
Yanjin Liu ...
Shujuan's mother
Bin Li ...
Zhang Lu ...
Mrs. Lan
Donglin Guo ...
Lin Yunwei


On Dry Well Lane in Beijing in 1953, Chen Shujuan and Lin Shaolong marry. A year later their son, nicknamed Tietou (Iron Head), is born. The Party is everywhere: Mao's photograph, loud-speaker announcements, visits from the neighborhood committee. Shaolong dies in a reform camp; a close family friend, who protects Shujuan and her son partly out of guilt for lying to authorities about Shaolong, succumbs to malnutrition; a confrontation with the Red Guard leads to injury, imprisonment and death. Shujuan's love for Tietou sustains her, and the child's blue kite embodies hope: "I can make another for you," says Tietou's dad; by the end, Tietou promises this to a small child Written by <>

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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

25 March 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De blauwe vlieger  »

Box Office


$355,974 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


When it became clear at some point during production that the Chinese government would ban this film, the producers smuggled the negative to Japan, completed post production there and sold the rights worldwide. Peking was not amused, and in consequence, director Zhuangzhuang Tian was not allowed to work for several years. See more »

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User Reviews

A Powerful and Involving Film
2 December 2002 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

" The stories in the film are real, and they are related with total sincerity. What worries me is that it is precisely a fear of reality and sincerity that has led to the ban on such stories being told." - Tian Zhuangzhuang

The Blue Kite, a beautiful and courageous 1993 film by Tian Zhuangzhuang, describes the ups and downs in the lives of a young Chinese family from the early 1950's through the Cultural Revolution of 1966. The film, which has not been seen in China, deals with the social upheavals caused by the Rectification Movement, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution, three events in recent Chinese history whose effects for good or ill are still being debated. Narrated by their rambunctious young son Tietou ("Iron Horse"), this is a political film about ideological excess, but it is also about the strength of family and the love of a mother for her son. Tietou, played by three different actors (Yi Tian, Zhang Wenyao, and Chen Xiaoman), tells how the swirling tide of political events caused uncertainty and disillusionment among the villagers.

Tietou's mother, Shujuan, brilliantly portrayed by Lu Liping, is a tower of strength who must care for her son while coping with the sudden death of three husbands, indirectly due to the political turmoil. As the film begins, the drafting of citizens for manual labor is shown as part of the party's Rectification Movement, publicized through the mass media as an effort to remove "bourgeois" influences from professional workers. Shujuan's first husband, Shaolong (Pu Quanxin) falls out of favor with the Rectification Committee for his views (and because he has to go to the bathroom at an inopportune time). He is sent to a labor camp where he is accidentally killed by a falling tree. Her second husband, Uncle Li (Xuejian Li), dies of liver disease after confessing his role in reporting Shaolong and sending him to the labor camp. Shujuan then accepts marriage from a quiet intellectual named Lao Wu (Baochang Guo).

During this time (1966-69), high school students, known as the Red Guard or hong wei bing militants, were organized to promote revolutionary enthusiasm and political purity by turning against "outdated" values taught by the teachers in their schools. They soon spread from the classrooms and became roving gangs, closing shops and schools and parading errant professors through the streets. Tian depicts the excesses of the Red Guard in bullying and beating those whom they deemed to lack "political purity". For example, Lao is denounced as reactionary by the Cultural Revolution and is arrested and beaten by Red Guards. Some claim that actual physical violence never occurred during this period. What is certain, however, is that the campaign led to the emergence of factions that believed they had the right to impose their beliefs on others.

The Blue Kite is a powerful and involving film that says much about how ideological self-righteousness can undermine the things that are most precious -- a mother's love for her son, the strength and resilience of the family, and the right to speak our minds without fear of repression. The enduring values represented by the symbol of the blue kite are contrasted with the red banners and their changing political message. When the kite is caught in a tree, Tietou's father promises him, "I can make another for you"; by the end, Tietou makes a similar promise to a small child. And so it goes.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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