Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

"Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress" is a wonderful film which follows the lives of two young educated Chinese men, sent to the hinter- lands during the Cultural Revolution. Their only diversion from the grinding labor, inescapable poverty and wrenching hunger with which they find themselves, is some smuggled -- and forbidden -- French literature.

Our eponymous seamstress is the lovely young granddaughter of the traveling tailor who occasionally brings his durable old treadle sewing machine through that part of the mountains. She is his able -- but not necessarily willing -- assistant.

This is a perfect way to witness the impact of the Cultural Revolution on China's educated populace, to see the village Communist hierarchy in action and above all, to stare in open-mouthed awe at the amazing landscape! Remember how all the classical Chinese art depicts impossibly steep mountains with waterfalls, conifer trees and deep valleys? Here it is! In living color! That really IS what the landscape looks like in that isolated part of China.

The story itself is charming, as it shows the impact of literature on ordinary folks. It includes a wry twist you never see coming, and allows you to enjoy the entire thing without feeling cold or hungry! The movie is almost as good as the best-selling book, but it is far better in it's depiction of authentic life in China at that time.

I saw in the newspaper that the DVD is now available, so it should show up in your rental catalogs very soon.