What You Need To Know:
Zhang Yimou's TO LIVE is one of the most uplifting and morally accessible dramas to grace the screen in a long time. Following the lives of an average Chinese family during the turbulent decades between 1940 and 1970, TO LIVE tells a classic and well-made tale of love, commitment and hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
(Ac, B, L, V, M) Anti-Communist worldview portraying moral elements of forgiveness & family unity (no spirituality depicted); 5 obscenities & 3 profanities; one off-screen execution & two accidents involving children; and, some gambling.
Zhang Yimou’s TO LIVE is one of the most uplifting family dramas to grace the screen in a long time. Following the lives of an average Chinese family during the turbulent decades between 1940 and 1970, TO LIVE tells a classic tale of love, commitment and hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Avoiding the over-the-top melodramatic antics common to most epic dramas, Yimou opts for a smaller canvas on which to depict the struggles of the Xu family. In Yimou’s story, no family member suffers from unjust incarceration; there are no grand battle scenes; there are no torrid affairs or bitter blood feuds. The Xu family’s travails are more down to earth, more recognizable: finding work when jobs are scarce, finding a doctor when a child gets sick, forgiving family friends for past mistakes. For Zhang Yimou, raising a family is an epic adventure all in itself.
Mercifully devoid of sexual and violent content, but containing several obscenities and profanities, TO LIVE is also one of the more accessible adult family dramas of the year. In its quiet, down to earth way, the film also stands as a strong indictment of Mao Zedong’s Communist regime. So strong, in fact, that the Chinese government has placed an indefinite ban on the film’s distribution and a two year filmmaking ban on Yimou.