To Live (1994) Chinese Movie Information
Title in Chinese – 活着
Title in Pinyin – Huo Zhe
Genre – Drama
Subject/theme – The struggle of an impoverished land lord to protect his family through China’s civil war, great leap forward and cultural revolution
Language – Mandarin
Region – China
France – 18th May 1994
Hong Kong – 30th June 1994
Germany – 28th July 1994
USA – 18th November 1994
Movie runtime – 132 minutes
Fugui is the son of a rich man who lost his family fortune gambling and estranged himself from his pregnant wife and young daughter. He later reunites with his family and works as a shadow puppet operator until the civil war in China between the Kuomintang and the communist erupts. The movie then follows the lives of Fugui over the next few decades during the massive upheaval of China’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
Editor’s Review of To Live – Score 8/10
To Live is an extraordinary look at the lives of people in China during the unprecedented social upheaval of two revolutions that changed the entire fabric of Chinese society and sent shock waves around the world. To Live does not criticize or make judgement on Mao Zedong and his policies. It instead shows the chaos and hell that people endured during the decades that followed China’s civil war and the way people were forced to change their lives, their values, their attitudes and their very way of thinking.
Both Gong Li and You Ge give excellent performances and the cinematography is subtle, unobtrusive and focuses on the daily lives of the main characters and their experiences. There is a lot of tragedy in To Live but the film does not emphasize hard and instead focus on the resilience of people and their ability adapt and make the most of their lives.
To Live Links