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

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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,727 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.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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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
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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 »


Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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User Reviews

Adorable Poetic Love Story in Times of Changing
24 October 2005 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

In 1971, in the China of Mao Tse Tung, the two university students Luo (Kun Chen) and Ma (Ye Liu) are sent to a mountain mining village with very ignorant peasants and also a Maoist rehabilitation camp, to be reeducated. Both fall in love for the illiterate granddaughter of the local tailor, called "little seamstress". They become friends, and Luo and Ma steal forbidden books of western literature, and while they read the books and teach the little seamstress, they also tell the story to the community and play classical music in the violin, developing and improving their lives.

What a magnificent and beautiful movie is "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress". In a wonderful landscape with stunning scenery, this revolutionary love story about the importance of books to improve the life of people is very believable and I am not sure whether it is based on a true story. I regret that the DVD released in Brazil by Europa distributor has interviews with the cast and director spoken in Mandarin and without subtitles. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Balzac e a Costureirinha Chinesa" ("Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress")

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

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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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