8.3/10
14,133
93 user 21 critic

To Live (1994)

Huo zhe (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 16 December 1994 (USA)
After Fugui and Jiazhen lose their personal fortunes, they raise a family and survive difficult cultural changes during 1940s to 1970s China.

Director:

Yimou Zhang

Writers:

Wei Lu (screenplay), Hua Yu (novel) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
You Ge ... Xu Fugui
Li Gong ... Xu Jiazhen
Ben Niu Ben Niu ... Town Chief
Wu Jiang ... Wan Erxi
Deng Fei Deng Fei ... Xu Youqing
Tao Guo ... Chunsheng
Tianchi Liu Tianchi Liu ... Xu Fengxia, as an adult
Zongluo Huang Zongluo Huang ... Fu Gui's Dad
Yanjin Liu Yanjin Liu ... Fu Gui's Mom
Dahong Ni ... Long'er
Lian-Yi Li Lian-Yi Li ... Sgt. Lao Quan
Cong Xiao Cong Xiao ... Xu Fengxia, as a teenager
Lu Zhang Lu Zhang ... Fengxia, as a child
Yan Su
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Storyline

Fugui and Jiazhen endure tumultuous events in China as their personal fortunes move from wealthy landownership to peasantry. Addicted to gambling, Fugui loses everything. In the years that follow he is pressed into both the nationalist and communist armies, while Jiazhen is forced into menial work. They raise a family and survive, managing "to live" from the 40's to the 70's in this epic, but personal, story of life through an amazing period. Written by docraven

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

China | Hong Kong

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

16 December 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

To Live See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,332,728
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ranked number 41 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018. See more »

Quotes

Xu Fugui: If Youqing does as daddy says, our lives will get better and better. Our family is like a little chicken. When it grows up, it becomes a goose and that will turn into a sheep. The sheep will turn into an ox.
Xu Youqing: And after the ox?
Xu Fugui: After the ox is Communism, and there will be dumplings and meat every day.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Safety in Rubber (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Chinese history on a human scale
14 February 2006 | by marissas75See all my reviews

Yimou Zhang's "To Live" begins in the late 1940s and covers several decades in the life of Fugui (You Ge), his wife Jiazhen (Li Gong), and their two children. It is an excellent family drama, provoking both laughter and tears, and distinguishing itself from similar movies because of its commitment to showing how China's changing society affects the family. It takes the huge subject of "the first twenty years of Communism in China," and brings it down to a human scale.

Both leading actors nicely portray the way their characters change over the years. At first, Fugui is the stereotypical "callow young man" and Jiazhen the even more stereotypical "long- suffering wife," but the screenplay and actors eventually deepen the characterizations.

The best sequence of the film covers the Chinese Civil War. Wisely, Yimou Zhang resists the temptation to make the movie too epic, and instead focuses on Fugui's personal experiences. The result is a very moving depiction of the human cost of war. In another striking touch, Fugui's hobby is singing with a shadow-puppet troupe. The puppets not only provide an interesting glimpse into traditional Chinese culture, they also take on a symbolic meaning.

After watching "To Live," it's easy to see why the Chinese authorities banned it: there's a lot of tragedy in the film, and in most cases, Communism is to blame. Remarkably, though, Zhang also makes many of the Communist characters sympathetic. For instance, Fugui and Jiazhen's daughter marries an officer in the Red Guards, who is a little ridiculous in his devotion to Mao Zedong, but not a villain. This is in keeping with the overall spirit of "To Live"--humanistic and subtle, instead of bombastic or propagandistic. It's both an important examination of recent Chinese history, and a universal story about how individual human beings manage "to live" in times of hardship. A rare combination, and one well worth seeing.


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