By Julie Denice Griffin
The controversial film speaks of Our Book Grotto – And the best friend of Chiang Kai Chek, and the narrator of our story once fitted a tooth for the mean superviser during the year of 1949. Chairman Mao did not send you here to have reactionary gourmet bourgeoius chicken (As one young brain-washee reads a desired recipe’ off a paper for the group) – The pushy facilitator tells them all he allows them to eat. Corn and cabbage.
“Our hero falls deep down a hole shortly after just as a man with a sewing machine adhered to his back along with the table shows up. You may say this looks like a good punishment for him for spying on the girls at the waterhole. Luo’s clock displays a real rooster, a great fascination to the stark surroundings of the little seamstress. She places one finger on the clock as she makes her eyes wide. “Life here is no fun.” Although her two new young male friends admire her sewing ability, she tells them her interest reflects an interest about world culture more. Feeling stifled at the mountain prison camp used to punish students for absorbing too much western education, The Little Seamstress desires morre than anything else in the world – To broaden her horizons.
“Will you tell me a story? A foreign film.” The Little Seamstress teaches the boys to lay down on either side of her and look up at the trees. The boys, kind to a boy who loses his eyeglasses he uses to read his hidden books on Chinese medicine and other forbidden books claims to the two friends who want books he owns nothing of the kind. But the leather briefcase speaks volumes.
“You want a sweet potato,” Offers the city boy. The woman wants news about her son also living there. The boys exclaim as the author recieves news to go to new employment at a magazine – His brainwashing process completed, the little seamstress hungry for stories and books outside of the dull routine, craves them more than any other delicacy. One older female demands the audience to applaud some young teenage girls in green military uniform who sing songs about Chairman Mao. The boys end up with more than just a few books – Crime & Punishment by Doestoevsky fascinates them the most and makes them proud to present the collection of the books to the little seamstress.
Luo somehow attracts the disease of malaria and the boys dissapointed about the culture remaining the same, find themselves fighting his fever together. Thrashing the boy with sagebrush after throwing him repeatedly to the ripping jaws of the ice cold river, he only shows signs of abrupt healing after embracing the little seamstress. Coming to visit from her village, the little seamstress finishes beating him with the sagebrush before the embrace. They kiss. “It’s not as good as when you tell a story,” she tells him at the movies.
A black and white actor stirs something at a potters wheel. The boy who calls himself Balzak imitates Uselle Miriout at the review as the others admire the dusk-lit violin. The violin not even really played symbolizes the nicolaitian form of control. The admired instrument stands between the prison and freedom. The brain-washed prisoners captured and brought to the camp may stare at the symbol of freedom – But the unplayed notes stress a constant reminder of the present bondage of the people.
The boys advise an elder to move on as the cramped and tiny living quarters with no toilet presents a rough situation indeed. “The savage only have feelings – The living man has feelings and ideas,” stresses the little seamstress. The elderly man stays and cares for the boy anyway, promising to teach him the sewing skills required for the trade of taylor.
A bad dentist pulls out the superviser’s good tooth – Leaving the rotting tooth in his mouth. The unruly mistake covers more of a problem than the lack of proper dental and medical care at the camp present. A myriad of future problems for captives. The sewing machine begins to turn out clothing for everyone – But the dungheap treatment continues. The jealous facilitator removes all color and luxury and interesting things from the poor college students. And complains to deny them of the few colorful clothes even from a simple machine.
The boys finally make a drill out of the sewing machine, filling the tooth. The little seamstress wants to tie the difficult man up – His cooperation with the procedure bad, his attitude speaks of no less more than that. Pouring melted tin into the cavity of the bad tooth – Ashamed of the man’s karma, the boys manage to control the ungrateful man. Luo, promoted to the local doctor now cares for the little seamstress while reading novels to her while she practices her writing. The chief contributes later by risking his life to save a portrait of Mao from the mind-program camp.
“Which bird dives into the pond of a sky?” Sings grandpa. As Luo and the little seamstress go for a swim, his friend asks, “You told her you’re leaving tomorrow?” Asks the proverbial Balzak as the little seamstress swims innocently and unknowing about his plans while a dress of leaves wrapped around her sparkles against the clear, blue stream. He tells her nothing. She quickly replaces him with a new friend who loves to read beautiful novels to her and who takes care of her properly. Bitten by a snake a few minutes later, she recovers quickly and putting Lao on the departure truck out of her life forever, she wastes no time getting on with her life. “For three weeks I read her Madame Bovery.” She shows off a new silk blouse that her grandpa made for her. But the peace soon dissapears quickly too.
One day, a group of bullies meet him up on the path of his work. Toting a basket with produce upon his head, they take his book. The boys kick him and beat him up severely.
If grandfather finds out the little seamstress is pregnant, he will kill her. At the same time, Chinese law prohibits eighteen year olds from gettting married. Fearing for her safety and the fact that she must wait until the age of twenty-five to marry, Balzak takes her to a hospitol and begs a doctor to perform an abortion. “My poor Christophe.” Balzak pays the doctor with a copy of a novel’s passage on a sheepskin jacket. A translation by Fu Lei, Balzak begins to cry. The doctor apologizes for calling his author father an enemy of the people.
Balzak serenades the little seamstress during the abortion while she allows controlled tears to flow down either side of her face. “It’s not as good as Mozart is thinking of Mao,” for the Black Swan’s entrance. “I sold my violin to the doctor.” For twenty-five years, a Shanghai-made violin finds great appeal in the arms of a gentle-handed physician.
According to Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune, “Novelist-filmmaker Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is an oddity: an adaptation of a popular novel co-written and directed by the novelist himself. It’s also a fine, gentle film love story and a cinematic tribute to the power and manifold benefits of communications between different cultures and nations.” Consider the 2007 film rated R for nudity and adult themes.
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