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  Ashlei Havili Mr. Thomas Russell TMA 102 7 November 2014 To Live: International Cinema The Chinese film To Live, directed by Yimou Zhang, is a drama about a family’s journey through the beginning of the Communist era. This film, banned in China because of its anti-Communist views, is both sweet and heartbreaking. While covering many universal themes, the film has a distinct international flavor. The difference in culture was evident, and added to the  beauty of the piece. To Live is a great example of both international film and Third Cinema. International cinema is usually associated with the art cinema movement. This movement was directly placed against the Hollywood style of linear narrative and more uncomplicated characters. Compared to linear narrative, which usually follows an Aristotelian structure, To Live  seems quite episodic and random, making the storyline very hard to see. It follows normal life, more similar to documentary, rather than a neat storyline. Fugui (the main character), Jiazhen (his wife), and their two children are the main focus of the story. It encompasses their lives for over three decades, and the triumphs and struggles of every year. They seemingly have no objective, no overlying goal; they simply live their lives as best they can. This is very different from the classic Hollywood storytelling, with a beginning, middle, and end. In fact, the film has an almost circular storytelling. Towards the beginning of the film, Fugui tells his son if he works hard, “life will get better and better.” At the end of the film, after his daughter has died as well as his son, he tells his grandson the same motto. The hardships in the middle make this a bittersweet moment, as well as a closing of the circle. These differences in storytelling make it obviously not a Hollywood production. Third Cinema, a style characterized by critical political representation in developing countries, is evident in To Live. It takes a negative view on the Chinese Communist movement, which is expressed throughout the film. It expresses many of these views almost implicitly, while only a few are explicit. As the Communist movement se ttles into China, one of Fugui’s closest friends is branded a capitalist. The village leader urges Fugui to show how distanced his family is from his friend to show their loyalty to the country. When the friend later arrives, distressed and planning suicide, Fugui tells him that he cannot commit suicide, and shows his immense friendship for the man. This part of the story asks a question of the audience: which is  better, loyalty to country or loyalty to friends and family? This is a major theme in most anti-Communist films. One of the more explicit messages is at the marriage of Fugui’s daughter. The marriage  becomes a focus on the Communist leader of China, Chairman Mao, rather than the couple getting married. The inclusion and overbearing of the Communist propaganda both in this clip and the rest of the film is added in a way that makes it almost farcical, showing the director’s disdain for the Communist movement. These views and references are very clear in the film, making it obvious why it was banned in mainland China.  I really enjoyed this film. I thought that the story was heart-wrenching and beautiful. The cultural differences were very evident, but not obtrusive, adding to the beauty of the piece. The “everyday people” portrayal in the mov ie made it more real to the audience and helped us to fall in love with the characters. Their struggles became not only real to the audience, but the emotions that they brought to the characters became reciprocated in the audience. I loved the way the story was told, very episodic and with the circular ending. To Live  is a great piece that I would recommend to anyone, and would love to watch it again.

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Jul 23, 2017
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