IMDb > To Live (1994)
Huo zhe
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To Live (1994) More at IMDbPro »Huo zhe (original title)

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Up 51% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Wei Lu (screenplay)
Hua Yu (novel)
View company contact information for To Live on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
16 December 1994 (USA) See more »
After Fugui and Jiazhen lose their personal fortunes, they raise a family and survive difficult cultural changes during 1940s to 1970s China. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Golden Globe. Another 7 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Simple epic, masterfully made See more (89 total) »


  (in credits order)

You Ge ... Xu Fugui

Li Gong ... Xu Jiazhen
Ben Niu ... Town Chief

Wu Jiang ... Wan Erxi
Deng Fei ... Xu Youqing
Tao Guo ... Chunsheng
Tianchi Liu ... Xu Fengxia, as an adult
Zongluo Huang ... Fu Gui's Dad
Yanjin Liu ... Fu Gui's Mom
Dahong Ni ... Long'er
Lian-Yi Li ... Sgt. Lao Quan
Xiao Cong ... Xu Fengxia, as a teenager
Zhang Lu ... Fengxia, as a child
Yan Su

Directed by
Yimou Zhang 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Wei Lu  screenplay
Hua Yu  novel
Hua Yu  screenplay

Produced by
Fu-Sheng Chiu .... producer
Funhong Kow .... producer
Christophe Tseng .... producer
Original Music by
Jiping Zhao 
Cinematography by
Yue Lü 
Film Editing by
Yuan Du 
Art Direction by
Juiping Cao 
Production Management
Xiaofeng Hu .... production supervisor
Wenhua Ma .... production manager
Barbara Robinson .... production supervisor
Pingan Wang .... production manager
Jianmin Zhang .... assistant production manager
Zhenyan Zhang .... production supervisor
Art Department
Genlin Ding .... props assistant
Xinming Huang .... assistant art director
Xiong Jiang .... location manager
Liang Li .... assistant art director
Liang Li .... set assistant
Guangming Liu .... artist: traditional shadow play props
Hua Liu .... artist: traditional shadow play props
Xingwen Liu .... artist: leather lamp shadow play
Zhong Liu .... assistant art director
Zhong Liu .... set assistant
Guangtang Meng .... artist: traditional shadow play props
Jinglu Pan .... artist: traditional shadow play props
Zhixiao Qu .... artist: traditional shadow play props
Yulong Shen .... property master
Zhuang Tian .... assistant art director
Pu Wang .... property master
Zhenzhong Wang .... artist: traditional shadow play props
Kuanhou Yang .... artist: traditional shadow play props
Lingen Yuan .... property master
Sound Department
Tomeno Geya .... sound editor
Shinichi Ito .... sound mixer
Koshiro Jinbo .... sound mixer
Masato Komatsu .... sound editor
Yoshihiro Nakayama .... sound mixer
Makoto Ono .... re-recording mixer
Jing Tao .... sound
Hiroshi Yamagata .... re-recording mixer
Visual Effects by
Tôru Adachi .... visual effects supervisor (as Malin Post)
Komei Moriyama .... visual effects
Sachiyo Ogawa .... visual effects
Tetsuo Ohya .... visual effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Tianming Chen .... gaffer
Changyou Han .... assistant lighting
Huiliang Jin .... assistant lighting
Ali Li .... assistant camera
Linfa Li .... assistant lighting
Changtai Liu .... key grip
Yun Lu .... assistant lighting
Weibing Meng .... chief cameraman
Hong Qi .... assistant camera
Yinfang Shen .... gaffer
Tong Wang .... assistant camera
Weimin Yu .... assistant camera
Li Zhang .... assistant camera
Editorial Department
Nobutake Kamiya .... negative editor
Atsushi Nakagawa .... negative editor
Masami Ohashi .... negative editor
Other crew
Hiroyuki Fukushima .... film development
Ryuji Kobi .... film development
Chung-Chu Leung .... production advisor: Hong Kong
Joyce Pierpoline .... publicist
Eiichi Takahashi .... film development
Yicong Wu .... film development

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Huo zhe" - China (original title)
"Life Times" - Hong Kong (English title) (alternative title)
See more »
133 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

This film is banned in China. However, there are a number of pirate copies you can buy on the street.See more »
Xu Fugui:What did you name our son?
Xu Jiazhen:"Don't Gamble".
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Safety in Rubber (2007)See more »


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54 out of 57 people found the following review useful.
Simple epic, masterfully made, 19 July 2003
Author: Simon Booth from UK

When I re-watched FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE recently I was surprised that it was much less political than I remembered it being. Turns out that's because I'd somehow merged together that film and TO LIVE together in my poor muddled brain. Both have some similarities, beyond the common appearance of Gong Li in front and Zhang Yimou behind the camera, but TO LIVE definitely confronts the political (I should really say "social") aspects of the decades they cover much more directly and forcefully.

TO LIVE (aka LIFETIMES - I dunno what the Chinese name is) basically covers 3 or 4 decades of one family's life in China, in a period that saw not one but two revolutions, and looks at the effect the social upheaval had on ordinary people's lives. The film rarely criticises the political movements instigated by Mao Tse Tung, but does an effective job of showing the hellishness of a society that has been turned on its head, where the people are forced to change not just the way they live but the way they think, and people are forced into social relationships that are new, and quite possibly against human nature.

I hope I won't jeapordise my visa if I admit that I had strong leanings towards Communism when I was younger, having read Marx in philosophy classes. His picture of a society without private possessions or social hierarchy did seem very appealing, but Marx acknowledged that the only way for such a society to work was if every member saw the value of it and willingly took part in it, and admitted that the only way that was likely to happen was via massive revolution - i.e. killing everyone that didn't agree with the plan. As a teenager, that didn't seem like such a big price or problem

Certainly I'm not the only person to have considered this price worth paying, and a couple of people have actually put the plan into practice - lamentably with less than stellar results. Mao Tse Tung is, I guess, the undisputed king of Communist revolution, having led TWO of them in China, and probably disrupting more peoples' lives than anybody else in history in the process. TO LIVE gives those of us that haven't had to live through such conditions some idea of what it might have been like. People used to the cushy capitalist western lifestyle might wonder just how on earth people can live through conditions like that, but that's the what the film wants to say... life might deal you some crappy hands, but people are remarkably adaptable and resilient, and you've just got to try to live the best you can. It sounds remarkably trite put like that, but the film does a good job of expressing it.

The film is based on a novel, with the author co-writing the screenplay as well. Zhang Yimou directs brilliantly as usual, which in this case is to recognise the strength of the story and characters and to back off a little, giving them space to live their lives. Although the film looks great throughout, the cinematography is quite unobtrusive. He once more elicits a great performance from Gong Li and the rest of the cast, with leading man Ge You giving the best one of all. The film has occasionally been criticised for throwing piling too much tragedy on, but this is never done in an exploitative/manipulative way, and Zhang Yimou avoids turning to melodrama to evoke an audience reaction... which makes him all the more likely to get one (and without the audience feeling used afterwards).

In a career full of magnificent films, TO LIVE stands as one of Zhang Yimou's finest moments. The film is epic yet remarkably simple, and the execution is as near to flawless as I've seen. I doubt that even Akira Kurosawa could have handled the material better, which is to say that Zhang Yimou surely ranks in the world's top echelon of film-makers. Long may his life and career continue

Highest recommendation!

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for To Live (1994)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Your reviews make me wonder if i saw the same film.. Trickyrich
More interesting in view of Chinese censorship than in itself blubb06
How did Fengxia die?? its-hard-to-explain
There is a too much palvdb
What is the meaning behind the title? Lefantome16
Is Long'er Japanese? ahoymematey2000
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