Set in China 1937 around the battle of Nanjing. The Japanese army has just taken the capital city of Nanjing and what was to follow the citizens could never envisage. In the weeks following the takeover thousands of Chinese POW's and citizens were brutally treated and murdered.
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The unnamed father (Rujun Ten) is a rural postman whose job entails humping a huge backpack full of mail on a three-day walk through the mountains, stopping at all the tiny villages along the way. He's done it several times a month for 25 years, never missing a trip. Now the postal bureaucrats have forced him into retirement because his legs, ruined by the arduous route, have started to give out. As the film begins, the father has passed the route on to his son, and the son is ready to make his first trip.
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Set amid lush mountains in an isolated region in China in the early 1970s, Dai gives us a gently paced semi-autobiographical account of two teenage boys, Ma (Ye Liu) and Luo (Kun Chen) who arrive at a Maoist camp for "re-education." Because they are the offspring of the "reactionary" elite -- the very class that Mao sought to purge during his Cultural Revolution -- the boys are prescribed a daily regimen of lugging buckets of shit to fertilize the local rice fields alternated with tedious shifts in a copper mine. Through Dai's eyes, though, what ordinarily might be a rather bleak portrayal of suffering is viewed through rose-tinted lenses. The Communist Committee chief of their village (Shuangbao Wang) is, true to fashion, a by-the-book ideologue. He wants to come off as a hardliner, but he's won over easily enough by Ma's claim that the Mozart lieder he plays on his violin is, in fact, a tribute to Mao. This would be fine if it led to a more complex dynamic between the chief and the boys, but this cheeky repartee goes no further.
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Set in China 1937 around the battle of Nanjing. The Japanese army has just taken...
If you want to make a grown man cry at the movies, give him a...