30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Love and forbidden culture in 1970s China,
This review is from: Balzac & The Little Chinese Seamstress [DVD]  (DVD)
This fascinating film is based on the book written by the director Sijie Dai about his personal experiences when re-educated in Chairman Mao’s China in the 1970s.
It is shot in the beautiful Phoenix Mountains in Northern China and relates the experiences of two educated eighteen year olds Luo (Kun Chen) and Ma (Ye Liu) thrust into an isolated illiterate peasant community and both falling in love with the tailors daughter “Little Chinese Seamstress” sensitively acted by Xun Zhou.
This political re-education does not entail incarceration so the boys are free to move around, and this enables an exploration of how reading and education and the ideas learned from books improve the human condition.
The boys steal a suitcase of books (according to the Director in the interview nearly everyone in Chine at the time (including himself) stole forbidden books. Balzac is important to the Little Seamstress as she learns the role of women in western society, and the power beauty can give them. The chemistry between the two educated boys and the illiterate girl they educate is superbly enacted.
The drama unfolds at exactly the right pace shot in fine photography amidst glorious natural beauty. A great Chinese movie.