The Little Chinese Seamstress

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Integral Scenes That Were Removed - Little Chinese Seamstress

The most important scenes that were removed, with regards to the Little Chinese Seamstress, were the scenes of Luo trying to cross the ridge, the scene of Luo teaching the Little Chinese Seamstress how to swim, and the Little Chinese Seamstress cliff-diving. Luo's issues with crossing the ridge reveal that he's afraid of heights and makes it that much more impressive when the Little Chinese Seamstress starts cliff-diving. Her swimming lessons are a metaphor for her thirst for knowledge and her eventual over-passing of them. Luo teaches her how to swim in a "sophisticated" manner and she becomes an excellent swimmer, even better than him. But then, she takes it one step further by diving, she overcomes his fears and passes him in the race of swimming and knowledge.

Integral Scenes That Were Removed -

Director Influence- Sex Appeal

I think the director added significantly more sex to the film than the book had. There was only two sex scenes in the book, both of which were only mentioned after they happened, and the movie added scenes of the boys watching girls bathe and had one explicit sex scene and then completely cut out the more subtle of the two sex scenes between Luo and the Seamstress. When I watched the trailer, I noticed that these rather insignificant (with regard to the story) sexual scenes were highlighted in the trailer. So I would say that, based off of the idea that it was so obviously presented in the trailer, these scenes were included because sex sells and not because they would better the film.

Director Influence- Communist Era

The director added in more communist influences on the story. I think this was for the betterment of the story. Most people can't understand how immersive the communist ideology was and how recent the Cultural Revolution was. By adding more references to the Communist Council, having songs praising Chairman Mao playing in the background, and showing how terrified the common people were of "bourgeois chicken", I think this director helped people understand how much Luo and the narrator were going against in reading these books. That this fear against anything that did not go along with the communist ideology was real and pervasive in their society. I also appreciated that the Little Chinese Seamstress talked about airplanes and made little models of airplanes. Because airplanes are a relatively recent invention, it helps the audience understand that this "re-education" was recent (their story starts in 1971) and people that are still alive today, like the author, experienced situations similar to the ones that Luo and the narrator had to go through.

Director Influence- Previous Friendship

One of the things that irritated me about the movie was that it didn’t show Luo and the narrator’s friendship previous to their being sent for re-education.

In particular, there was no mention of the humiliation of Luo’s father. This takes away from the story because the scene gives further understanding to Luo’s character and shows why he has shows such opposition to the communist movement. He planned to get revenge on everyone who denounced his father, but he instead lashes out at his best friend. This shows how strong Luo and the narrator’s friendship is. Sometimes you need a friend who will listen and sometimes you need a friend who will let you punch them in the face.

Director Influence- What's In A Name?

I think that giving the narrator a name was not a good move. Most of the cast is known by their professions rather than their names. The only characters in the book who are called by name are Luo, the authors, the characters, and Chairman Mao. This is supposed to set up a balance. We have an unnamed (at least in the book) narrator through whom we watch Luo try to use those characters and authors to "re-educate" the Little Chinese Seamstress and therefore theoretically spit in the face of Mao. This, of course, backfires when it works too well and she leaves him for her dream of knowledge and sophistication. He taught her she had value and so she left. This story is about Luo and the lessons he learns from these experiences, that's why it was important that so few people had names. Naming the narrator may have made it easier to include his character in the movie, but it took away from the main conflict of the story.

Director Influence- Too Easy

I appreciated the director showing how afraid the people were of acting against the communist party and showing how recent this all was, but there were situations that I think were adjusted or left out to make the communist party look like it wasn't as bad. The humiliation of Luo's father and how they let Luo leave for two months to see his sick father (it was one month and his mother in the book) were scenes that should have been unaltered and included, in my opinion. The movie mentioned nothing about how they treat "reactionaries". Luo's father was labeled a class enemy because, in the book, he bragged about doing dental work for Chairman Mao, his wife, and his mistress. But that would be less understandable than if he was labeled a class enemy for doing dental work for a class enemy (as presented in the film). And when Luo's mom gets sick, he's allowed a month off to go see her. But, in the film, he's allowed two months off to visit his sick "reactionary" father. That would NEVER be allowed. They would never allow him to sympathize with any reactionary, much less his father. The whole point of the Cultural Revolution was to keep the educated young people or the children of class enemies from being Westernized; it was to keep an intellectual contagion controlled. I think these changes were due to the 7 months of negotiations between the director and the Chinese authorities for the rights to film in China. I assume the Cultural Revolution is not something they're proud of so I would think they would demand revisions to the story to put the past actions of the country in a softer light.

Critical Acclaim- Film

The film was nominated for four awards: The Golden Globes, 2003: Best Foreign Language Film; Istanbul International Film Festival, 2003: Golden Tulip; Golden Horse Film Festival, 2003: Best Screenplay Adaptation; and the Hong Kong Film Awards, 2004: Best Asian Film.

Critical Acclaim- Novel

The novel received mixed reviews. Many found Sijie's writing style to be entrancing and the story to be funny and emotional. Some didn't like the ending and others found the story to be unsatisfactory. Of course, his novel covers a very touchy subject in China's past, so there were complaints from Chinese authorities over how he portrayed the communist party in his novel.

The book was a best seller in France in 2000 and has won literary awards.