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
Joan Chen and Cunxin Li share similar experiences in life: both were born in 1961, they were picked at a young age to pursue an artistic career and they both came to the United States in 1981. See more »
The film does not show Houston as it was 1981-86. For instance, when Cunxin first arrives in Houston, he and Stevenson drive past a Ferris Wheel, which did not exist in 1981. Many of the buildings were not there either. In addition, the Wortham Center was not complete until 1987. From 1969 to 1987, the Houston Ballet danced in Jones Hall, which is still in use for many other performances. However the Director may have chosen Wortham considering it architecturally and environmentally more grand, and timing off by only a year. Beresford may not have considered the environs of Jones Hall as attractive. There may have also been time and budget constraints on researching old photos of downtown, using CGI, etc. See more »
Diane and I saw this excellent movie at Paradiso in Northbridge two days ago and we both were entranced by the beauty and sensitivity of Mao's Last Dancer. I admit that I was none too anxious about seeing this film about dancing but after the opening scenes in rural China and a quick cut to Li Cunxin and early dance years and I had become a total fan of the movie. Beresford's direction married to the acting and dancing ability of Chi Cao result in a movie about dance but that theme is only the canvas upon which this moving and quite dramatic story unfolds. The resulting movie is far, far more complex than I thought as I entered the theatre. Yes, of course, the ballet sequences are glorious to watch but this film, as I said, is not just about dancing. The script explores international politics, domestic trauma, family bonds, interpersonal tension and these are only my random memories. At the start of the film, I could not believe that so many hugely dramatic instances could flow from the life of a young man born into less than salubrious circumstances in rural China. There are many different scenes; Beresford edited the film in fast sequences and the total is amazingly complicated; I am in awe of such a complex life so richly lived. Put Mao's Last Dancer on your must-see list!
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