A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In ... See full summary »
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A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet. Written by
Schull, Amanda who plays Li's wife Elizabeth--the American dancer who leaves him to audition for the San Francisco Ballet--was herself a member of the SF corps de ballet until she retired in 2006. See more »
Li's teacher gave him a video cassette so Li could watch ballets performed by Russian dancers. VCRs only became popular in the west in the mid seventies. It would be impossible for the teacher to have his own copy of video tape in China in the early seventies. See more »
This cineaste and balletomane had given up many years ago any hope of ever seeing the dance rendered adequately on film. Enter Bruce Beresford. I suppose every ladies' book club in the English-speaking world has read Mao's Last Dancer, so if you wanted to make a film based on that autobiography, you'd first have to find a brave director. Well, this is it. Linking together life in desolate inner China and a sophisticated western world has been done before. But there is an emotional story here, and the casting agencies deserve enormous credit for finding such competent people. I mean, do you find an actor and teach him to dance, or do you get a dancer to act? Whatever; the lead in this film can dance very well indeed, and his acting is more than competent. I won't retell the story. Just let it be said, that at the performance I saw, most of the audience sat through the credits. Those who left early looked mystifed by the applause. A ladies' book club cum chick flick? I think not. Sure, the tissues were out, but this is one surely exciting film.
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