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To Live
  |     review    |     notes     |     awards     |     availability     |    

Gong Li in To Live.
AKA: Lifetimes  


Year: 1994  
Director: Zhang Yimou  
  Producer: Chiu Fusheng, Kow Fuhong, Christopher Tseng, Barbara Robinson
  Writer: Lu Wei, Yu Hua
  Cast: Gong Li, Ge You, Ben Niu, Xiao Cong, Deng Fei, Liu Tianchi, Jiang Wu, Guo Tao, Zhang Lu, Zhang Kuang, Ni Dahong
  The Skinny: A poignant, decades-spanning chronicle of the ups and downs experienced by one family during a focal point in China's tumultuous history. The film ranks as one of the best Zhang Yimou/Gong Li collaborations.
Review by Calvin McMillin:

Marvelous performances by Gong Li and Ge You anchor this fine dramatic film from acclaimed Mainland director Zhang Yimou. The story centers on the wealthy Fugui (Ge You), who in one fell swoop loses his house, his fortune, and his family all due to a nasty gambling addiction. Abandoned by his wife (the luminous Gong Li) and now penniless, Fugui works as a street hawker just to make ends meet. In dramatic fashion, Fugui's life fits the very definition of the term, "reversal of fortune."

Eventually, he reunites with his wife and children and begins to make a paltry living as a puppeteer. But before Fugui can truly settle into his new life, the winds of war sweep him out into the field of battle as civil war breaks out between the Communists and the Guomingtang. From that point onward, Fugui's life becomes a proverbial rollercoaster ride of fleeting highs and heartbreaking lows.

To Live is yet another great film from director Zhang Yimou. Here, he weaves a compelling tale wrought with fortuitous coincidences and bitter ironies. The tacit criticism of the corruption and incompetence that permeated Communist China during these harrowing years gives an extra layer of substance to an already substantial film. Acting-wise, Ge You and Gong Li deliver stunning performances in this decades-spanning tale, proving more than worthy of every acting accolade that has come their way. To Live may be sad, but it's a truly satisfying film. (Calvin McMillin, 2003)

Notes: • Based on the novel by Yu Hua.
• China initially banned the film and forbade Zhang Yimou from working on foreign co-productions for five years, but later withdrew the injunction.
Awards: 1994 Cannes Film Festival
• Winner - Grand Jury Prize
• Winner - Ecumenical Jury Prize
• Winner - Best Actor (Ge You)
• Nomination - Golden Palm
1995 BAFTA Awards
• Winner - Best Foreign Language Film
1995 Golden Globes Awards
• Nomination - Best Foreign Language Film
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
MGM Home Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Removable English, French, and Spanish Subtitles
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image courtesy of MGM/UA Home Video Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen