'Nie Er' is an amazing discovery. It is a soulful and credible biopic of the composer who wrote 'March of the Volunteers', which became the PRC's national anthem. His very real travails are presented in straightforward manner, showing how a passionate and very talented man was nevertheless sidelined. Heavy propaganda is quite deftly avoided, because it is unnecessary.
The scoring is both poignant and powerful. I was reminded of Alfred Newman. The acting is excellent, the art direction has that wonderful murky quality found in most Chinese studio productions of that era, and the 'Peoples'Color' is muted and quite faded, but somehow effective. (Based on the DVD available from Beauty).
I watched it without subtitles, and the print obtained for the DVD was scratched and aged, but it only added to the film's mystique. The sound was excellent.
The sincerity of the film is quite moving. Chinese cinema of this genre was to reach its peak with Ping Wang's 'Dongfang Hong' ('The East Is Red') in 1965, and 'Nie Er' is an outstanding member of this remarkable group.
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