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 ...
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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 »
I was moved not only by the cultural value and socio-economic perspective of the movie, but also by the themes of compassion, hope, and diligence. As a middle school teacher, I also like how it brings out the idea that meaningful learning (in the classroom and beyond) takes place through real-life commitments, situations and applications.
As a note aside, notice the credits; although this movie is based on a Chinese novel, the director selected actors and actresses from the real world to play their real-life partscomplete with their real names and titles. Thus teacher Gao really is teacher Gao! Mayor Tien really is mayor Tien, and the kids, together with Minzhi Wei, really are village children, who have no acting experience. Thus the movie really is "realistic" in a true and meaningful way. Don't miss this one!
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