7.2/10
4,141
47 user 65 critic

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002)

Xiao cai feng (original title)
Two youths sent for a Maoist "re-education" in the mountains fall in love with the village tailor's granddaughter.

Director:

Sijie Dai

Writers:

Sijie Dai (novel), Sijie Dai (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

France | China

Language:

Mandarin | French

Release Date:

9 October 2002 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress See more »

Filming Locations:

Fenghuan, Hunan, China See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$16,694, 31 July 2005

Gross USA:

$666,327

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,209,555
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

Film comes apart at the seams
1 April 2003 | by Shakespeare-2See all my reviews

Boys meet girl. Girl meets books. Boys lose girl.

Whoever said "No girl was ever spoiled by reading a book"?

"Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" is supposed to be an ode to the transforming power of music and literature, beauty and love. But it fails to fulfil its promise, and downplays transformations of another kind. It makes light of the Cultural Revolution effected in China by Chairman Mao Zedong, portrays the Chinese people as unschooled rubes. It overlooks the fact that the primary means of disseminating Chairman Mao's wisdom was, in fact, a book -- his "Little Red Book". All we get is a rehash of simplistic contrasts between revolutionary and reactionary, peasant and bourgeois.

In the end, of course, progress and modernity triumph. Or do they? The much-vaunted "culture" of bourgeois intellectuals, embodied in the novels of Balzac, Dumas and Stendhal, ultimately yields the decadent opulence of consumerism. The re-educated boys' greatest gift to the little Chinese seamstress is to teach her how to read (and think). But in the end, the best they can offer her is a little bottle of perfume by Yves Saint Laurent.

Ironically, progress proves to be destructive, wiping out the past. But the film's denouement reaches neither the soaring heights of joy, nor the searing depths of tragedy, "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" manages no more than a wistful nostalgia.


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