Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress

Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress (2002)
The film Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002) reviews the lives of two
youngsters in the early 1970s. The two individuals Luo and Ma are sent to a mountain village for
further studies in accordance with the Maoist principles. The need for them to be re-educated
resonates with the period of the Cultural Revolution in China at the time. The two young men
find work as peasants under the command of a headman in the village. He values the boys’ violin
as he regards it a symbol of individuals of the highest social class. Luo and Ma later find love in
the mountains. They both fall in love with a Chinese seamstress by the name Chung Zhijun. She
is the daughter of a tailor. The two boys appear rebellious against their traditions when they
become captivated by her banned works of literature from the west. They find interest in the
works of French writers, Dumas and Balzac as they are encouraged to denunciate the traditions
of communism. The film ends with a scene showing the two men reminiscing on their past after
30 years.
The Relationship of the scenes to the theme of friendship and language
The film starts with a clear depiction of the existent friendship between Luo and Ma.
They are close friends who have grown up together and seen their parents persevere public
humiliations at political rallies. Notably, they leave for reeducation to the mountain at the same
time. Notably, they appear to have spent quality time together. However, the relationship
between the young men appears complicated and questionable. Luo appears selfish and careless.
Ma navigates through diverse trials and tribulations in trying to uphold loyalty to his friend. Luo
seems a difficult person to love as he appears violent and selfish from diverse occasions, for
instance, in the scene of taking Balzac’s books from Four-Eye’ suitcase, he appears to be the one
making first dibs at all times.
Ma uses a language that tends to put other people first in any given conversation. Most of
the time, he rephrases his statements to affirm praises to those around him. In one of the scenes,
he rephrases a statement from “my oppressors” to “the Little Seamstress’s swarm of
disssapointed suitors.” In his language, he perpetrates a belief that his presence is unimportant in
relation with individuals within his vicinity. This appears to be his way of showing loyalty.
Ma’s loyalty appears threatened when Luo departs the mountain temporarily and gives
him the responsibility of protecting his Little Seamstress in his absentia. Ma loses control of the
fact that he normally hides his love for Luo’s girlfriend. He takes his physical portrayals of love
in language and other aspects of friendship and loyalty from Luo to the Little Seamstress. He
helps her with household duties and paints her fingernails. This is an act of service. As an adult
Mao learns to put more value on other peoples’ loyalty rather than being sufficient in what he
shows to others. As a spectator in his friend’s love affair, he learns that loyalty needs to be
radiated from both sides for attainability of equal friendship.
Scenes illustrating the relevant cultural interactions
The first scene that portrays cultural interactions is in the reeducation experience that the
boys prospect to find in the mountains. As urban people, they will be expected to adjust to rural
societal expectations. At the mountain, they do not find working as peasants pleasing. This
signifies cultural differences. Furthermore, the education system is stifled in the film. The
supervisor for intellectuals, Ma and Luo is an illiterate village headman.
The communist regime wants people to perform strenuous work and lead simple lives.
However Luo opposes this system and considers his own way of education. Luo’s interaction
with the Little Seamstress exemplifies cultural interaction scenarios. Luo prospects to perform
his own kind of reeducation on the Little Seamstress. He wishes to change her from her
simplistic and country-like nature to a cultured person worthy of praise for her own affection.
His dream materializes in another scene where Ma and Luo read Balzac to her. Prior to
enlightenment, the Little Seamstress contradicted with the government’s form of re-education
while the exposure of Ma and Luo to literature from the West had sharpened their ideologies and
changed their ambitions to counter the expectations of the communist regime in the nation.
Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress, 2002 [film]. Directed by: Sijie, Dai. US: Empire

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