The Chinese film To Live is an exceptional film. It is moving, tragic, hopeful and historical all at the same time as it tells the story of Fuqui and his family and captures decades of Chinese history from the 1940's to the 1960's. Their story is beautifully and poignantly intertwined with this historical backdrop and captures how this history affected ordinary Chinese citizens. I highly recommend this film for its portrayal of Chinese history and touching family story.
The movie tells the story of Fuqui, his wife and two children. I will not give the plot away, but this film is worth watching for its historical portrayal of the events that marked Chinese history from the beginning of the Great Leap Forward to the start of the Cultural Revolution led my chairman Mao. In this film we see how the lives of ordinary Chinese changed and were touched by the political happenings of the time. From the formation of communal kitchens in the villages during the Great Leap Forward to the duty of melting steel during the Cultural Revolution, we see how every citizen was involved in the revolutionary efforts. The film captures how pervasive Mao and his ideology was at the time and how these infiltrated every aspect of people's lives. We see images of Mao in the villages from homes to walls on the street, the red book in every home and there are many scenes of people marching wearing red scarves to carrying portaits of the great Mao, championing both him and a new China. The edict "do as Mao says" is carried out unquestionably as when Fuqui is directed to burn his puppets in an attempt to rid China of old traditions. Domestic sences are intertwined with political marches, parades and duty. Even during an intimate event such as the wedding of Fuqui's daughter to a revolutionary, the people express their loyalty and devotion to Mao and pose with the newlyweds and the red book. This movie brings to life just how pervasive Mao and the ideals of the revolution were in people's lives and how these touched every aspect of their life, from the personal to the public.
This film is most appropriate for the classroom and could be used to supplement content related to the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The value in this film is in the personal story of Fuqui's family, but also in its portrayal of Chinese history. Such a film can bring to life for students just how this history affected ordinary people's life and the tragic consequences of that history. This film could also be a good introduction to Chinese cinema for students because of its many endearing children scenes and touching family story. I higly recommend this film.