The Blue Kite (Lan feng zheng) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Blue Kite (Lan feng zheng) Reviews

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June 29, 2014
The film is a gently biting, transporting portrait of unspoken truth and innocence lost. The undeniable authenticity of it leaves a mark.
March 31, 2014
Films like this one are why I don't let politics discourage me from watching movies.
November 23, 2013
the film's humanity shines through
½ April 26, 2013
A well made film but monotonous
ElCochran90
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2012
I'm convinced God was the one that allowed this film to remain in existence and hit territories overseas. It hits a harsh reality without the necessity of being scandalous, thus the exaggerate reaction by the remnants of the regime in the 90s. Powerful drama almost climbing up to an epic scale, Lan Feng Zheng is a gorgeous symbol of hope and the power of family. "I'll make you another blue kite."

97/100
½ November 25, 2012
On paper communism must have seemed like the socio-economical equality that the Chinese people had been denied by a century of humiliation from feudal states and foreign powers ruling from abroad.

Karl Marx viewed communism as the final stage in humanity; society without class, state, or oppression.

Ironically, communist nations have historically been authoritarian states that view even suggestion as a form of subversion.

In "The Blue Kite" Chairman Mao Zedong's communist utopia is measured against one nuclear family in Beijing, opening in 1953, whose youngest male member narrates the film -- from beyond? -- his adolescence marked by three distinct periods in Red China's formative years (Anti-Rightist Movement, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution).

These three periods are split into three chapters, which coincide with the three men who are married to the boy's mother beginning with his biological father.

By the end of "The Blue Kite" all three men will die from direct or indirect effects of Mao's aggressive, paranoid brand of Agrarian Socialism.

"The Blue Kite" is a paragon of a slow burn. Fifth Generation filmmaker Tian Zhuangzhuang takes his time establishing the atmosphere of early '50s Beijing and the characters who live in and around it that are happy for the things they have in life: food, clothing, shelter, and one another. Suffice to say, slowly, but surely, as government policies become greyer the hope once shared by the family gradually dims.

"The Blue Kite," to no surprise, was censored by the Chinese government upon completion in 1993 and Tian banned from filmmaking for nearly a decade. Audiences in need of a faster, more melodramatic telling of the same ground covered in "The Blue Kite" should consult "To Live" (released the following year to the same domestic consequence) by Tian's Fifth Generation peer Zhang Yimou. Both films have since gone on to wide international acclaim.
½ November 11, 2012
The best Chinese movie ever made, and it is STILL banned there! Covers the period from the rise and take over of the red army. Re-education of the populace, and the four year plans and their aftermath. Brutally honest, and humanistic. A must see for everyone interested in life within Communist China.
July 23, 2011
Informative soap opera about growing up in Mao's China
December 5, 2010
Chinese movie The Blue Kite was the story of Tietou, a boy born in Beijing in 1953. He narrated the movie following him and his family through the turbulent times in China in the beginning of The Cultural Revolution.The movie focused on the family and how they were affected by the political changes that time.I must say my knowledge of Chinese history lacked and so I was confused by what was happening to the family members. The backbone of the movie was the relationship between Tietou and his mother, and their courage in facing hard times. What seemed like safe behavior at one time was consider a cause for arrest at others. This may have been one of the main points, but I did not understand the reasons.The acting was at it finest and real, the ending will rip your heart out.
mvieaddict
Super Reviewer
December 5, 2010
Chinese movie The Blue Kite was the story of Tietou, a boy born in Beijing in 1953. He narrated the movie following him and his family through the turbulent times in China in the beginning of The Cultural Revolution.The movie focused on the family and how they were affected by the political changes that time.I must say my knowledge of Chinese history lacked and so I was confused by what was happening to the family members. The backbone of the movie was the relationship between Tietou and his mother, and their courage in facing hard times. What seemed like safe behavior at one time was consider a cause for arrest at others. This may have been one of the main points, but I did not understand the reasons.The acting was at it finest and real, the ending will rip your heart out.
May 10, 2010
I think, and I'm assuredly not alone in this, that the Communist era in China, especially the early years of it, were very bad for the Chinese people. An example of this is given in today's film, [i]Lan feng zheng[/i], the story of a young boy who is born in 1953 China. Mao has declared that the sparrows are bad for Chinese crops. And, indeed, the sparrows ate a certain amount of grain. However, they ate far more insects, and it was the insects which were bad for the crops. This foolish policy dropped China into famine. Teitou (Xiaoman Chen at this point, I believe; as an infant, he is Tian Yi and as a child he is Wenyao Zhang) and his friends start a riot at school. This ends with them burning their books and the closure of the school itself, leaving the children in ignorance. Their principal is probably sent to a work camp; it is not unlikely that she died there.

Tietou's parents are married about a week and a half after the death of Stalin. His father is sent away and dies. His mother remarries again, marrying a local party leader who dies of "liver malfunction," probably brought on by the problems caused by killing the sparrows. Then, his mother marries a higher party official, one who lives in a big city. Tietou tries to stay in touch with his mother's family, but China is not safe for families. Anyone can be sent away for essentially any reason. This is, after all, the era of the Cultural Revolution by the end. Intellectuals were feared and distrusted; anything Western was destroyed, as were many priceless artifacts of Chinese imperial history. Tietou finds no safety anywhere.

Through it all, there are blue kites. Tietou's father makes him one; throughout the film, other people make them as well, culminating in Tietou making one for his young step-nephew. These kites, I think, are intended to be symbols of hope, but they inevitably get stuck in trees. Not even the kites can find safety; the kites cannot seek the haven of the blue sky. (Though at least one is merely blown away, which is nice to think about for the kite but not so happy for the boy on the ground.) Tietou is trapped. His mother, who twice seems to marry in the hope of improving life for her son (though I think she really loves her second husband), suffers even more, as she uses herself to shield her son.

This is not a fun movie. This ends badly, and Tietou's own ultimate fate is uncertain but troubling nonetheless. It is, however, a fascinating movie, one created at great personal danger to the filmmakers. Anything veering away from the official 1981 statement on the subject by the Chinese Communist Party (the "Chief responsibility for the grave 'Left' error of the 'Cultural Revolution,' an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration, does indeed lie with Comrade Mao Zedong" and that the Cultural Revolution was carried out "under the mistaken leadership of Mao Zedong, which was manipulated by the counterrevolutionary group of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing and brought serious disaster and turmoil to the Party and the Chinese people," per Wikipedia) is highly censored, and the portayal of the suffering of these individuals is highly problematic.

But it is a beautiful film, a significant film, a moving film. It's a Great Movie, for the curious, and one we should see before we die. The three Tietous blend into one another well enough that I'm literally not sure when we switch between the last two. The horrors of the time, the fears of the time, are captured in a way that I think even ignorant Westerners will understand, though I imagine it takes knowing what the Cultural Revolution was in the first place.
March 15, 2010
Captivating, all about what people went through the Great Leap Forward. Amazingly showing both the pros AND the cons, as the family goes through family improvement, but also loss, in a well thought out narrative that feigns ignorance to what all the Cultural Revolution was all about.
½ October 27, 2009
Of the so called fifth generation of filmmakers in Mainland China, Tian Zhuangzhuang made some of the most politically charged films at the time, of which The Blue Kite and the blacklisting that followed it bears evidence. It was probably not the Red Guards behaving stupidly that triggered the censors though, The Cultural Revolution hardly being the politically sensitive subject it once was in China, but the rebellious nature of the child protagonist Tietou, clearly echoing that of the student demonstrators in 1989. On the technical side Tian defiantly steers away from the established aesthetics of his fiifth generation peers, by allowing lots of camera movements, even indulging in some pretty elaborate crane shots, and cuts back and forth during dialogue. This gives The Blue Kite a more European feel, I guess, and also means that Tian gets firmer control over the audience's emotional response at crucial moments of the narrative.
½ August 2, 2009
Considering where this was made, it's a miracle that this film even exists at all. Just do yourself a favor and see it when you get the chance.
½ July 18, 2009
This was a fairly good film, however for some reason I failed to get caught up in the trials and tribulations of the characters. For me, it lacked the tragedy I expected from a movie set during this era - such as that of Farewell my Concubine (Ba wang bie ji).

I am at a loss as to why this particular film is touted as being banned in China - probably just media hype. It doesn't portray any more realism/horror of the conditions in this era than other films - it is not overly sensationalist.
April 29, 2009
A truly heartbreaking and beautiful tale about a Mother and Son. The political outrage is clear and the filmmaking style never gets in the way of its message. Typically, it was banned in China when first released. A stunning movie that is well worth checking out.
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