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Blue Kite, The

Tian Zhuangzhuang

Banned in China, Taian zhuangzhuang’s epic domestic drama was one of the hit’s of last year’s Cannes. Inspired by the experiences of Tian, his family and friends, it charts the tribulations of a Beijing family between 1949 and 1967; inevitably, since this is China an dthe story proceeds from the early years of the people’s Republic to the nightmare of the Cultural Revolution, the subject is both personal and profoundly political. A tale of endless disturbance, uncertainty, betrayals and absences (for once the focus is less on the hardships of those sent into exile than on the suffering of those left behind), it’s filled with a wealth of telling detail. An angry devastatingly moving but never maudlin account of how Mao’s policies affected the everyday lives of even the youngest Chinese – much of it seen through the eyes of a small boy – the film, uncommonly forthright in itts political thrust, can only be described as a masterpiece.

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