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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002)
"Xiao cai feng" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,697 users   Metascore: 65/100
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Two youths sent for a Maoist "re-education" in the mountains fall in love with the village tailor's granddaughter.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Little Chinese Seamstress
Shuangbao Wang ...
Head of the Village
Zhijun Cong ...
Old Tailor
Hongwei Wang ...
Four Eyes
Xiong Xiao ...
Mother of Four Eyes
Zuohui Tang ...
Old Mill Worker
Wei Chen ...
Wife of the Head of the Village
Tianlu Chen ...
Director of the Commune
Qing-yun Fan ...
Jie Min ...
He Zhang ...
Yukun Xu ...
Lina Mei ...
Female Villager


In 1971 China, in the lingering grip of the cultural revolution, two university students, Luo and Ma, are sent to a mountain mining village as part of their reeducation duty to purge them of their classical western oriented education. Amid the backbreaking work and stifling ignorance of the community, the two boys find that music, and the presence of the beautiful local young women are the only pleasant things in their miserable life. However, none compare to the young seamstress granddaughter of the local tailor. Stealing a departing student's secret cache of forbidden books of classic western literature such as the works of Honore de Balzac, they set about to woo her and teach her things she had never imagined. In doing so, they start a journey that would profoundly change her perspective on her world and teach the boys about the power of literature and their own ability to change their world in truly revolutionary ways. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Parents Guide:







Release Date:

9 October 2002 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$8,953 (Hong Kong) (31 January 2003)


$665,260 (USA) (20 January 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Filming was allowed in China after seven months negotiations with the authorities, but any projection on Chinese territory was banned. See more »


String quartet
opus 131
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

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User Reviews

a beautiful movie about friendship and how experiences change people
20 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I was really moved by the portrayal of the friendship of the Little Seamstress, Ma, and Luo, and how their lives were changed by their experience in the mountains in this brief span of time. The mountains were beautiful, the re-educators were not presented as monsters, and the acting, esp Xun Zho as Little Seamstress and Ye Liu as Ma was really good. Xun Zho reminded me of the young Gong Li in Red Sorghum. Most importantly, I rediscovered how lucky I am to be able to read and watch what I want when I want, and how I am almost obligated to take advantage of my freedom to read and watch movies.

For me, the filming was never as strong as the better Asian movies but once the movie got going the filming became stronger as did the movie.

The character of the harshness of the cultural revolution in China in the 60's was shown thru a politically soft-focus lens, but I did not mind this as there are more than enough Chinese movies that have leaned in the other direction, and for me, this was a movie about friendship and love in a political and cultural setting, not the other way around which matches my own personal preferences.

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If only ... (humour) Red_Menace
Question about the language for US release... mippolit
For those that have read the book... manny_the_uncanny
'We both loved her, but in diferent ways' xlaituvalmetx
Wow- what a film..exceptionally moving ledgehall
DVD release Red_Menace

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