The most Under rated movie of all time
asiandiva20 | midwest USA | 12/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately foreign movies do not get the credit and publicity they deserve. If only people would be more open minded about foreign movies, they would discover the movie "To Live". To Live is a movie about life itself. It reflects what the common people in China experienced during the Cultural Revolution. We follow the life of an ordinary family that goes through many hardships, wondering if they would live or die. Through the hard times, it makes them realize how important life, family, and love really is. Ultimately in a country where there is so much chaos and tragedy, the only thing the people want, is TO LIVE. The actors/actresses in this movie are splendid, Gong Li is absolutely beautiful. I believe that her role in To Live is the most powerful and finest compared to all of her other movies. Somehow I can not explain it but Chinese movies have a way of portraying a person's character, their emotions in such a way that hits you right on the spot. That is something that American movies have not achieved yet. This movie will make you cry, laugh, and be thankful that you are alive. We win, we lose, life is not easy. I recommend this movie for anyone and everyone. It will make you think about your own life and be more thankful for what you have and don't have. It is just unfortunate that most people would never consider watching a Chinese movie, well they are missing out on the greatest movie."
Perfect Black Humor? a must-see movie
boris_n_nina | Philadelphia, PA United States | 01/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is absolutely my all-time favorite movie! "To Live" takes a different approach to narrate the confusing periods in Chinese history in the 20th century, to tell a store of life, and a history of a nation. Don't get me wrong! It's not a heavy movie like other portrayal movies of Chinese History such as "Farewell My Concubine", "Blue Kite" or "the Last Emperor" (they're good movies as well, but no comparison to "To Live"); quite the contrary, "To Live" is humorous, delightful, positive, and encouraging. It's not only a good comedy that makes you laugh, but also makes you laugh with tears in your eyes, sad and sore in your heart.The main story line is how am ordinary family of Fu Gui (Ge You) and Jia Zhen (Gong Li) went through their lives in various movements, wars and revolutions in China. A careless gambler, Fu Gui, lost everything he had - money, property and family - only left with a set of puppets. It's the same set of puppets that went through all the ups and downs with Fu Gui, his family and friends. Through all the tragic and comic moments and events, through all the bitter-sweetness and irony, the characters were in such a positive spirit that they could make jokes of anything in life, but only through the body languages and their eyes, you could see the heartache.There is an old Chinese proverb that states, "the old man lost his horse, but it turned out to be his good luck". The entire movie is based on this theory: whether you gain or lose, promote or demote, you would never know if it were good for you at the end. Life is a series of comedic dramas; if you don't face it with a positive attitude and joke back, even during the hardest struggle, you would not be able to survive.This movie is a masterpiece if you want to find out the meaning of Life, and how meaningful it is "to live"!"
A Stirring, Emotional Portrayl of Bitter Times in China
boris_n_nina | 10/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""To Live" was the first Asian film I saw and awed me tremendously. The film is truly a piece of cinematic art. Its acting is supurb - of all the Zhang Yimou films I have seen (four or five) this is the best acted. Gong Li and You Ge give fabulous performances, with excellent body language and characterization.The story, like Chen Kaige's "Farewell My Concubine" (also a portrayl of Chinese history, with more emphasis on the people than the history), follows people through the Communist Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution, all highly influential events in Modern Chinese history. (If you are unfamiliar with these events, the first is when the Communists took over China; the GLF is when the country tried to increase production through very extreme measures and failed horribly; the Cultural Revolution was an entire social reorganization aimed to stir up the passions of the people and to weed out Capitalists.)Anyhoo, the people are Jiazhen (Gong Li) and Fugui (You Ge), husband and wife. In the beginning, Fugui bets away his entire family fortune, which eventually saves them from being labelled Capitalists by the Communists. More events transpire - including two tragic deaths that could have destroyed Jiazhen and Fugui's family for good - until finally thirty years of revolution and tragedy bring them to the 1970's.In addition to the beauty of the film, the soundtrack by Zhao Jiping is incredible, and almost makes me cry from its sheer power.This film is truly a winner!"
A Vivid Reflection of the Tumultuous Period of China
Donghui Zhang | Philadelphia | 03/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To live, an inalienable right of human beings that sounds so basic, one could easily take it for granted. However, during most of the time in this century in China, to live could be nothing less than a luxury.The movie presents the audience a vivid picture of a former gambling addict, who lost every penny his family ever owned and, to his abyss, his family. One would not expect this mishap could save his life several decades later, when those financially privileged were executed as the people's enemies by the new government under the leadership of Chairman Mao. He fought for the Nationalist government, became POW shortly after. He then served in the communist PLA, entertaining the staff as a master of shadow play. The civil war ended, the country was split, while his wife and two children came back to him.He thought it was time for peace, after so many years of warfare ranging from the revolution against the emperor to the Sino-Japanese War to the civil war. Like most Chinese, he felt that he could finally stand up.To his disappointment, since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, he witnessed the Great Leap Forward, the class struggle, the Culture Revolution. Years of turmoil chattered all his dreams. His only goal became downgraded to living a simple life. He spared no effort to protect his family, but still lost his only son.It took a quarter century after the civil war before he saw the long overdue peace. When the notorious Culture Revolution was over, there also disappeared the people's euphoria about the communism, as symbolized by the striking contrast in the different answers to the same question about the future of their family. "Chicken, goose, goat, cow and the communism" was replaced by just "chicken, goose, goat and cow". For countless Chinese, their bitterly learned lessons gradually alienated them from their government that they used to love and trust.To Live is an excellent movie! It takes courage to show people the real picture of the past. For China, To Live could be a vaccine against more merciless class struggle and blind loyalty towards a self-claimed savor."