In a remote mountain village, the teacher must leave for a month, and the mayor can find only a 13-year old girl, Wei Minzhi, to substitute. The teacher leaves one stick of chalk for each ... See full summary »
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In a remote mountain village, the teacher must leave for a month, and the mayor can find only a 13-year old girl, Wei Minzhi, to substitute. The teacher leaves one stick of chalk for each day and promises her an extra 10 yuan if there's not one less student when he returns. Within days, poverty forces the class troublemaker, Zhang Huike, to leave for the city to work. Minzhi, possessed of a stubborn streak, determines to bring him back. She enlists the 26 remaining pupils in earning money for her trip. She hitches to Jiangjiakou City and begins her search. The boy, meanwhile, is there, lost and begging for food. Minzhi's stubbornness may be Huike and the village school's salvation. Written by
Yimou insisted on capturing natural reactions from the amateur actors. To achieve this, he often used hidden cameras and microphones. This resulted in a film-shot to film-used ratio of 35 to 1. Normally, because of cost, the ratio should be 3.5 to 1. However, because the film was shot on 16mm (an later blown up to 35mm), the price was about the same because of the cheaper film stock. See more »
There isn't much to this story, I but I still liked it. The lead character, played by Wei Minzhi, is supposed to be playing a 13-year-old girl and was really interesting to watch, as were the young students and some of the other people in this film.
Oddly, all these actors were amateurs, real-life students and people of varied professions. It's nicely filmed, too, despite the bleak background many times. I find the dialog of many Chinese films to be very pleasing. Yes, there is a lot of receptiveness, at least in the translations, but it's tolerable. There is very little profanity and plenty of good old-fashioned values and feelings of people, simply told. You don't find much of this is in modern-day movies of the Western World. The colors in here - the reds, yellows and oranges - are always a treat for the eyes and the Asian kids' faces are intriguing.
This film is very different from anything Western audiences are used to, but I recommend it for those who realize that fact and are okay with it.
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