1-World Festival of Foreign Films
HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD


To Live
(Huozhe)
China -1994
Directed by Zhang Yimou, Wang Bin, Zhang Xleochun


Exquisite family saga set in the days just before the People's Revolution.  A man loses his family's ancestral home to a gambling debt, leaving his entire family homeless and penniless. Now despised by his family, he forms a performing troupe, using shadow puppets given to him by his debtor.  He performs for the Nationalist Army.  One morning, he oversleeps and awakes to find that the Red Army has advanced around him.   He makes a seamless transition and becomes a "Peoples" performer.   One of the most impressive scenes in the film is that of the People's Liberation Army advancing on foot as you can imagine that millions of Chinese saw them, pouring over the horizon.  He uses his accidental association with the Red Army to cover up his bourgeoisie past, and reunites with his family.  Upon witnessing the execution of his former debtor, he comes to the realization that, for him, it is "good luck" to be poor.

This film allows one who has wondered what it must have been like to live through the days of the Cultural Revolution and The Great Leap Forward to reach a tentative understanding.  A family struggles "to live".  Sets and costumes were exceptional, as was the cinematography.  There were remarkable performances by all cast members, especially by Ge You, who won the award for Best Actor at Cannes Film Festival (1994) for his portrayal of Fugui, the main character.  Gong Li, delivered another strong performance for her then husband, director Zhang Yimou.  China not only banned the film, but issued a two-year ban on Zhang Yimou and Gong Li working together on any new projects.  We can only speculate as to the affects of this pressure on the (now terminated) marriage.

Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film - Hong Kong (1995).

Runtime:  133 minutes.


Guest Comments

From: "Simone"

"I saw this movie on ""Bravo"" and did not know the name of it , as it was not listed in my tv paper. It was one one the best movies I had ever seen. There are not many movies I like, so you know it had to be good. I don't usually watch a movie over again either, but I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy, so that I can watch again. AND, I don't usually watch subtitled movies, but this was just absolutley great. Loved it."


From:  "Nick Chapman"

""To Live"  begins just before Liberation (what the Chinese call their revolution) and follows one family through to the present era, along the way addressing the war for liberation, the impact of Mao's Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution - a period which is still being assimilated into Chinese consciousness.

In following this one family through all of this, Zhang produces an account of communist Chinese history, hitting all the really major events and showing their impact on people's daily lives. It is a wonder he was allowed to make it, because it is quite critical. I suspect, though, that the criticism was muted for the Chinese censors, at least initially, by the resilient commitment of the family to communist China, in spite of all their tragedies - which all fall within the orbit of acknowledged errors or deviations from the correct path.

But the final product was a bit much, and was not, I think, allowed to be screened in China for quite some time.

It is interesting to note that Zhang was able to sit out the Cultural Revolution in Beijing, while the other very famous Fifth Generation filmmaker, Chen Kaige, for whom Zhang initially worked as cinematographer, was one of those urbanites sent out to the countryside in order to transform both himself and the rural areas. Chen worked in Yunnan province, in a place very much like that show in his YELLOW EARTH, and the comparison of that film to Zhang's early work is striking.

But to return to Zhang and TO LIVE. TO LIVE was made between The Story of Qiu Ju and Shanghai Triad, both of which also star Gong Li, but are set within a much more limited time and place. In that sense, To Live is Zhang's most expansive movie. It is also worth comparing to a number of other Chinese movies made around the same time, which also turned to the grand sweep of history for the setting of their drama, most notably, Farewell My Concubine, by Chen Kaige. Then comparing Chen's Temptress Moon with Zhang's Shanghai Triad, one begins to see a pattern of the two directors following the same path. It's really quite interesting, but probably all over because of the changes in China and the Chinese film industry, and because Chen is clearly hoping to break out of the ghetto of Chinese film, while Zhang is committed to staying in China, and finally because Zhang and Gong Li have irrevocably split, ending one of the greatest pairings of director and star in cinema history, right up there with Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune."


From:  "MELISSA"

"I am currently studying Chinese cinema as part of a media degree. I would like to express how much I enjoyed 'To Live'.  For anyone who has never thought about watching a film such as this, it comes highly recommended by me. For those of you who have seen it and would like to see more, may I recommend 'Raise The Red Lantern' and 'Red Sorghum', also directed by Zhang Yimou. Happy watching!!!!!!"


From:  "Joe Witt"

"Yeah, this movie rocks."


From:  "Vincent"

".. a real treat" "Haven't seen such a wonderful movie in a long time...great characters and a tear jerking tragic story of a struggling family in China. The director/cinematographer did an excellent job in capturing the heart and soul of the chinese communist revolution of the 40-60s'....history couldn't be any better portrayed! highly recommended to all"


From:  "JOsh"

"TO LIVE IS TO DIE FOR!"

"I think this is one of the best movies this director has made yet. However, do not watch this movie alone or without your prozac. I pride myself on being the stoic nonemotional male-type, but I balled like a little baby at the end. This poor family: haven't they been through enough?"


From: "Jessica"

"Recently, I watched ""To Live"" for the second time, and I remained impressed. This is quite possibly my favorite movie of all time. Zhang has a beautiful way with the camera, and he treats his subjets with love and respect. The performances shine, and Zhang makes some very keen observations about life under communism, without being over the top. His criticism seems very subtle, and comes off less as criticism, and more as a simple aknowledgement of reality. Zhang is a superb director, and this is my favorite of his many many achievements."


From:  "Gundam009"

"This is truly a theatrical treasure of our time. To live accurately portrays the roles of the average Chinese ""comrads"" during the Communist revolution in China. The best part about this movie though is it's display of both positive and negative effects of the revolution. The actors are tantalizing, the plot well scripted, and the themes and setting blend in with everything else to make for a wonderful movie."

 

1commentbutton.gif (2143 bytes)


1-Back Button.gif (599 bytes)Back to China

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyrightę1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyrightę1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyrightę1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyrightę1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyrightę1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.