Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Zongxiang Guan, Gaowa Siqin, Bide Yan, Fengyi Zhang, Ziyue Zhao
Director: Zifeng Ling
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests
A Classic Film from China's Fourth Generation Directors
Rick | Hong Kong, China | 01/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a Chinese film buff like me and you haven't seen it, you're in for a real treat. Rickshaw Boy, from the novella by Lao She, is set in the 1920s during the warlord era in Beijing. It is authentic in its attention to detail and enhanced by the myriad of hutongs (and other characteristic aspects of the city) that were still omnipresent when the film was produced just after the launch of the opening and reform period. This is a very poignant film with surprisingly solid acting performances, especially from the young man, "Camel," the endearing protagonist, who arrives from the Hebei countryside with (almost naive) dreams of owning a new rickshaw and working for himself. But as with so much that was tragically unpredictable in that era, his ambitions are foiled by bad luck and connivance. He is deceived by a woman whose strongest desire in life is to avoid becoming an old maid. Yet, she too becomes a rounded character who finally gains the viewer's sympathy. This film presents a range of personalities from that era, and their accompanying occupations, and does so without resorting to tiresome stock characterization. The dialogue is sparse at times, as the situation warrants, and yet the needs of the main characters are given full voice. The pacing and editing of the film are good, although like many older Chinese films it suffers from some lighting problems.
If you haven't grown accustomed to Chinese filmmaking you might find the tone and scene setting maudlin at times. But the feelings expressed can be convincing if one gives the plot and the character interaction in particular the benefit of the doubt. Those with historical understanding and interest will no doubt appreciate this rare glimpse into Chinese street and family life in the intervening decades between the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the onset of the Communist revolution.