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To Live Film Review

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To Live Film Review

To Live
Director: Zhang Yimou

To Live is a great movie to show in a classroom where students are learning about the history of china from the 1940’s to 1980’s. The film starts off in the 1940’s, during the Chinese Civil war, with a rich young man who loves to gamble. After losing everything at gambling he becomes a peasant and has to do a puppet show to make ends meet. While traveling, he and his friend are captured by the revolutionaries and later returned home to find out that he is lucky to be a peasant otherwise he would have been killed for being a rich man. The film leaps a decade into the 50’s where the “Great Leap Forward” begins and how the people are affected by it. It is sort of comical/tragic the things the happen to the main character. The story moves once again decade more and it shows the improvements of the country, however at a great cost. It shows doctors being arrested for being “too educated” and how Mao has become the center of all attention. The movie ends by saying that things are just getting better and better. While having to reflect at what cost.
edited by cgonzalez on 1/9/2016

Cynthia Jackson
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Topic Posts: 5
Another To Live Film Review

To Live was recommended to me as a good movie to understand the building of "modern" China. For 7th grade, I think it would be helpful to show students several scenes in the movies and a note catcher to help them record their observations over the course of the movie. I would select scenes such as Fugui’s wife visiting the gambling hall, the first battle, and Long’er’s execution (just to name a few). Highlighting scenes like these would allow students to observe gender dynamics, China’s physical geography, class, and war culture on the front and at home- a topic that is usually reserved for western cultures in World War I and World War II- over three decades. These are some of the things that I would hope students would record on their graphic organizer:

  • That classes changed after the Communist revolution

    • Landowners were executed 

    • Peasants were elevated to laborers

      • Name changed but quality of life hadn’t improved that much

    • Children worked to contribute to community work and war efforts as well

    • Food was given to families from communal halls

      • Food was rationed

    • Belongings were taken away from families to support war efforts

  • That gender dynamics changed after the Communist Revolution

    • Before the revolution women were in more “subservient” roles such as servers or home makers

    • Afterwards, they worked everyday laborer jobs such as delivering water.

  • War front

    • At war, Communist Army was considered more human than the revolutionaries

    • At home, families were told that their sacrifices were worth it although there little improvement for them

    • At home, those who had served in the Red Army were made community leaders