Film: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress


Cast includes: Xun Zhou (Beijing Bicycle), Kun Chen, Ye Liu (Postmen in the Mountains)
Genre: Autobiographical light drama, Chinese with subtitles (2002)

In brief: In 1971, at the height of China’s Cultural Revolution, 19-year-old Ma and Luo are sent to a remote village on Phoenix Mountain. Why? Because Ma and Luo are dangerous bourgeois intellectuals, and they need to be re-educated… even the cookbook they bring is burned because it has recipes for “bourgeois chicken.” Fortunately, Ma’s violin is considered useful to the revolution because Ma uses it to play mountain songs like, “Mozart is Thinking of Chairman Mao” ... a name he makes up in an attempt to save the violin from being distroyed.

Mountain life is very severe, with little to look forward to… until Ma and Luo meet the old tailor and his granddaughter, the little seamstress. Totally smitten with her beauty and charm, they are determined that the little seamstress must not remain as ignorant as the other villagers. As luck would have it, a collection of French novels is theirs for the stealing. With Balzac and other favorites in their possession, Ma and Luo start a labor of love… educating the little seamstress. But as Chairman Mao knows so well... a little education can be a dangerous thing.

The autobiographical novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie was a bestseller in France, where it was written. Since then, it has been translated and sold all over the world… except in China. Thankfully, the Chinese government did allow the filming of the movie. With the screenplay and direction also by Dai Sijie, this film gives us an intimate view of a time and place few Americans can imagine.

popcorn rating

3 popped kernels

Popped kernels for the wonderful story, beautiful scenery, historic interest, acting and production

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