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Suggested Viewing
China

sugessted chinese viewing

(click on the links to buy the films from Amazon)
1.
DVD
VHS

The Last Emperor, 1999. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. A truly magnificent grand epic that tells the life story of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China. It follows his life story from his crowning at the age of three, and being worshipped by half a million people, to his abdication and re-education in prison before becoming a peasant worker. Filmed in the forbidden city, it won nine academy awards. The first Western film to be made about modern China with the full co-operation of the Chinese Government.
Watch the trailer here


2.
DVD
VHS

Raise the Red Lantern, 1991. Directed by Zhang Yimou. One of the great classics of world cinema, starring the actress Gong Li, who has been described as 'one of the world's greatest actresses'. This remarkable film tells the story of a feudal nobleman in 1920's China. Gong Li plays an educated girl of nineteen who is sent to be his 'fourth mistress.' Utterly compelling.


3.
DVD
VHS

To Live, 1994. Also directed by Zhang Yimou and also starring Gong Li - here she co-stars alongside Ge You. Tells the story of an ordinary Chinese family over thirty years of Chinese History. Very restrained, a good history lesson and a tender story too.


4.
DVD
VHS

The Blue Kite, 1994. Director Tian Zhuangzhuang. Banned in China. Again tells the story of an ordinary family trying to get by in the fifties and sixties, this time through the eyes of a small boy who grows up during the Rectification movement, then the Great Leap forward, and finally the Cultural Revolution.


5.
VHS

Farewell my Concubine, 1994. Directed by Chen Kaige. Bizarre, very long and sometimes difficult to follow, this is nevertheless an extraordinary film and was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA. Based on the novel by Lilian Lee, it spans fifty years following the lives of two male stars of the Peking Opera and the prostitute who comes between them.


6.
DVD
VHS

Ju Dou, 1990. Banned in China. Another Zhang Yimou and also starring Gong Li. Set in the 1920's, our heroine is sold to become the third wife of an impotent old man. It has been suggested that perhaps it was banned because Chinese leaders saw and unflattering metaphor for Chinese life; a society ruled by a coterie of ageing, controlling men. If you have become a fan of Gong Li, you may like to see this as, once again, she is extraordinary.
Watch trailer here

7.
DVD

Not One Less. Directed by Zhang Yimou. Not an epic this time but a simple tale about education in rural China, which casts non-actors in a documentary style. When a thirteen-year-old substitute teacher in a rural village loses one of her charges, she decides to go to the city to find him. A really beautiful film which tackles some difficult issues and gets around the censors.

8.
DVD
VHS

Suzhou River, 2000. Directed by Lou Ye. And now for something completely different. Chinese film-noir set in modern Shanghi, this is a mystery thriller that has been compared to Hitchcock's Vertigo.

9.
 
 
VHS

Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker, 1994. Directed by He Ping. Classic tale of forbidden love on the banks of the Yellow River in turn of the century China. Marrying below your status was an impossible as unwed love and neither would please the ancestors...

10.
DVD
VHS

Red Corner Directed by Jon Avnet, MGM, 1997. Set in Beijing.  It would be fantastic if this Hollywood action film staring Richard Gere wasn't relevant to Tibet and the human rights situation - but it is tragically relevant.


 

 

 

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