China: Stolen Life (2006)

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China: Stolen Life (2006)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Aug 02, 2007 4:52 am


Re: China: Stolen Life (2006)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Aug 02, 2007 4:53 am

[Moved from the Chinese Journal / OP 04/03/07]

STOLEN LIFE (China / 2005)

***possible spoilers***

Based on a controversial true story, Stolen Life (Sheng si jie) credibly charts the moral and physical struggles of its young female protagonist as she attempts to come in terms with life in contemporary China. Initially seen as a child who is left by her working-class parents in care of her resentfully committed aunt and granny, Yan'ni (Zhao Xun, of Suzhou River [2000] fame) grows up as a sullen, detached individual waiting for an opportunity to find herself. It soon arrives in the form of university acceptance in Beijing. But the downfall of its naivet begins on the very first day of school, as she runs into a handsome and charming young man who first deceives her into love before impregnating her for profitable reasons.

Stolen Life is a "sixth generation film" directed by fifth generation filmmaker Li Shaohong, who graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in the early-80s with the likes of Tian Zhuangzhuang and Zhang Yimou. Shot on DV (most likely in HD), it is quite a departure from her previous effort, the fantastical Baober in Love (2004), which also featured the alluring Zhao. Here, during the second half of the film, Li attempts to institute documentary-style realism with her intricate shots of the citys bustling "underground," where Yan'ni ultimately ends up and hibernates. While her protagonists first-person voice-over, which presages the pitfalls she endures, takes away from the dramatic tension and at times hints towards preciousness, it also guides by eschewing any sensational or melodramatic elements in this otherwise austere production. After Yan'ni becomes acclimated with the truth, she abruptly decides to take matters into her own hands, but, as film critic Amy Taubin rightfully stated, "what's marvelous about the film is the way she gradually overcomes her pain and desire for revenge and finds agency through her misfortune. Together Li and her expressive lead actress convince us that this change, rather than being grafted on to fulfill a political agenda, comes from within the young woman herself."


*STOLEN LIFE premiered at NYC's Tribeca Film Festival in 2005. It won the Best Narrative Feature award.

*Now available on U.S. DVD (First Run).

Re: China: Stolen Life (2006)

Postby hengcs » Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:42 am

Stolen Life

If I have time, I will rewrite this ...
But as of now, this is my conclusion

I also highly recommend this film. I thought it has a rather well written script. The beginning grips, as it hints at the unknown past, and the known future -- we are eager to know what has happened and what will happen. Despite the possibility that we may have heard of similar accounts before, the director/script writer/cast has done an excellent job in making us feel for the characters, along with a few unexpected scenes. In essence, I thought the film gets more and more compelling.

Actually, this film is 1 out of 10 stories in a made for TV film (also docudrama). The cast is all amazing, and the budget is huge. As some of the stories were so compelling, they were subsequently released on the big screen (at times using another film title). That is why the original Chinese title "Life and Death Plunder" is being replaced with "Stolen Life"

The stories were based on the book by An Dun, who wrote it based on actual accounts of real people.

Of the 10 stories, I have also watched another (I will try to complete all 10, but time is not on my side). The other film I have watched is entitled "We" (Wo Men). Again, I think the original title was "Brothers" (Xiong Di).

Re: China: Stolen Life (2006)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:44 am

I'm glad you liked Stolen Life. Interesting info regarding the series. In hindsight, the film at times did feel like a television production. Do you know who directed the other "stories"? Also, did you watch this film on the unsubtitled Chinese DVD or the U.S. one?

Re: China: Stolen Life (2006)

Postby hengcs » Tue Sep 18, 2007 11:37 am

Did you watch this film on the unsubtitled Chinese DVD or the U.S. one?

I watched the China version ...
I wanted to purchase the US version, but I thought it is kind of expensive compared to the China version,
is it worth buying?!

Do you know who directed the other "stories"?

The three directors are Li Shaohong, Zeng Nianping, and Andy Friend

1. Xing Fu Zai Xie E Zhong Chuan Xing
2. Zhao Jun De Mi Mi (The Secret of Zhao Jun)
3. Sheng Si Jie (Life and Death Plunder)
4. Wo Men (We)
5. Jue Dui Yin Si

6. Bie Ti Guo Qu Bie Wen Jiang Lai
7. Ren Zai Bei Jing
8. Chen Yue De Hun Sha
9. Ke Wang Yi Fen Zhen Ai De Gan Jue
10. Feng Qi De Chan Hui (The Confession of Feng Qi)

PS: The male actor of Feng Qi De Chan Hui (The Confession of Feng Qi) is nominated in the International Emmy Award

Re: China: Stolen Life (2006)

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:52 am

Very thorough, hengcs. That's exactly what I was looking for.

As for the U.S. version, I haven't had the chance to check it out yet, but FRF's Global Lens DVDs are usually of good quality and contain a few notes as extras. Currently, it is the only edition with English subtitles. I wish the ultra-cheap Chinese one had subs...

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