To Live (Huo zhe) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

To Live (Huo zhe) Reviews

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January 2, 2018
To Live is a sprawling family epic spanning decades, but never feeling reductive. It depicts a striking and human view of the horrors of socialism and the frightening reality of left-wing mob rule, where anything you say can be misconstrued and you can be put up against a wall for any imagined reason. Beautiful and charming movie overall, despite the tragic events the family suffers.
February 11, 2017
Epic history of 20th century China. If you don't know much about recent Chinese history, this is a good place to get an overview. This film actually had tears welling up for me, something that rarely happens!
May 22, 2016
Interesting movie that gives a glimpse of what life was like in Maoist China. Li Gong plays the wife of a family that lives through the Communist revolution in 1949 to the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.
May 4, 2016
The best Chinese film, also a true masterpiece!
May 2, 2016
One of the BEST Chinese Movies i have ever seen. All the ICS rolled in to one. Very romantic and very traumatic, very dramatic. Seeing how a Family struggled from being cheated of their place in their culture to the cultural revolution in all of it's horrors to living through it with the well meaning stupid revolutionaries. What a very great story of three generations living through those changes and surviving.
April 20, 2016
Communism may be a touchy subject for some but in Yimou Zhang's "To Live" humanizes its pro-communist characters through struggle and hardship while maintaining a charming story at its core.
April 20, 2016
To Live was well worth Zhang and Li's two-year ban on future collaborations due to its simple story line that both captures and encompasses the most profound realities of life during arguably the greatest controversial times in Chinese history. Zhang weaves a brilliant tale following a meek, impoverished husband and wife as they walk their committed way through the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s whereupon enduring the hidden cruelties and misconceptions of communism: sacrificing belongings, death of their young son in a work accident, and the death of their daughter during child labor without proper medical care. Although Ge You and Gong Li point their heavy laden and calloused fingers at the initial transgressors responsible for the deaths of their children, Zhang causes us to ponder through their story the simplest and most profound realities of Chinese life at this point in time. Perhaps after all they are the victims fallen prey to the truly evil monster of communism that will take absolutely everything from you-including your loved ones when you think cannot give anymore; Communism replies, "Oh yes, you in fact can." Nevertheless, Zhang and Li are able to transcend politics at the closing, drawing the audience in closer to the sheer tenacity of ordinary people in the midst of chaos.

Overall, the movie was touching, thought provoking, and realistically depicting a minor glimpse into the horror many families likely experienced during the ten years of terror. I imagine the movie sparked backlash and embarrassment, however brought a breath of fresh air by acknowledging the wrongdoings of Mao and through exposure of the truths of communism; an ideology such as this is never as it is portrayed to be. Despite the slew of tragedies and sadness that ensued, the steadfast husband and wife stand as a symbol of undying perseverance that, at the end of the day and through it all, it is worthwhile to live. What a message of hope and testimony this must have been to the Chinese left in ruins unable to see the sunshine found right behind the clouds that it is never to late to live.
December 24, 2015
This movie is sheer brilliance. There is no mawkish sentimentality, no epiphanies or grand heroics. Yet, it moves in a profound manner, by revealing in small doses, the quiet strength and resilience of the characters through straightforward story telling. A must watch.
October 21, 2015
Absolutely touching film that highlights the struggles of citizens who live during the transitional times of an empire rich in history.
May 20, 2015
Incredible movie. Also a brilliant crash course on modern Chinese history.
½ March 12, 2015
Never lingering too long or too short on a single event, we, like the characters are forced to move on as their lives must. Experiencing sadness, experiencing joy, every event of the film seems to be balanced by a more or less equal and opposite event, and every action of the characters is counterbalanced with its respective consequence. To Live is thought provoking and moving, contemplative and beautiful, another great from Zhang Yimou.
August 2, 2014
Painful but beautiful portrait of the civil war + cultural revolution in china
April 12, 2014
A tender & touching Chinese epic that covers a family through multiple decades set against the backdrop of the Chinese Revolution.

Acted with such precision and realism all characters are believable & heartfelt. Simply the story of a gambler who looses all & gains his life.

Filled with moments of beauty & hope but also tragedy & despair. This film has so much depth & insightful to life itself...it's an impacting film that stays with you.
½ January 1, 2014
This movie is (according to my parents) a very powerful and accurate depiction of how it was to live in China from the '40s to the '70s. I never understood it when my dad watched it in the past because I was too little, but I watched it again maybe two or three years ago, and it was extremely poignant and realistic. The acting is fantastic, too. I've mostly only seen Ge You in comedies, but he does a really, really amazing job in this movie. Gong Li is flawless, as always.
July 17, 2013
This movie gives clear overview of History of China.!
June 28, 2013
A perfect, epic film. I love the cinematography and the subtle themes against communist China. It is a very sad film as well.
½ May 7, 2013
It stays fresh in my memory that my deskmate spilt the book and burst into tears while finishing the novel.I really don't understand why it has been a banned film for years.For revealing too much?Yet people don't need fake hormony at all.
May 4, 2013
A gambler loses his family mansion, father and wife. Just when life was getting decent again he ends up in the middle of a revolution and the rise of communism. The movie spans about three decades, during which the family loses everything countless times yet they find the strength to cope with it and survive. An interesting movie about the difficulties people had to deal with during the stormy history of Chinese politics.

"Chinese censors objected to the film's commentary about political abuses in China's past, as well as Zhang Yimou's attempts to present the film at several international festivals. As punishment, he was forced to write a formal apology and was not allowed to make another film for two years."
-Mark Deming, Rovi
April 10, 2013
Transpiring over 30 years, its amazing it only last two hours! The director makes us feel the heartache and fear that the main characters live with in each passing governmental iteration in China from the 1940s to the early 1970s. But within the regimented lives, humanity still exists, in a practical joke, the defense of a sibling or the wedding of a daughter. They endure "to live", simple and profound.
January 7, 2013
Awe-inspiring and one of a kind. Banned in its home country for its honesty, this is an important movie among many important asian movies.Same basic point as in Chen Kaige's "Farewell My Concubine" but this movie is more genuine and wholesome. Take that as you will. Personally I felt a lot more emotion watching this one than Chen's interminably long and slightly deranged but just as strong film. Do see this one if you have to choose.
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