The Universe and Me

Saturday, January 07, 2006

No little events within the heart

Movie: Balzac and the Little Seamstress. Way back in the other century, when I was in college taking Russian History, my professor used to continually urge us students to, “Read, people! Read!” Throughout history one of the major forms of oppression has been the suppression of literature given to the masses. Certain forms of government become exceedingly paranoid of intellectuals and try to stamp them out one way or another. So my professor told us, since we had the freedom to read whatever we wanted, we should take advantage of it for the millions who do not have that privilege. In this movie, two sons of reactionary intellectuals (or more likely people with a middle class education) are placed in a labour camp to be “re-educated” (or dumbed down) during China’s Cultural Revolution. The camp is located in an isolated rural mountain village near the Yangtze River which provides the movie with gorgeous scenery and a tone that is probably far more idyllic than such an existence could have been in real life. While there, the young men fall for a charming, young girl whose life is changed when they begin reading her forbidden foreign literature. Sweet and bittersweet. And I learned chicken can be bourgeois. Who knew?


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