How can such a sad and depressing film make me feel so happy and hopeful to be alive? The phenomenal balancing act Yimou performs between these two extremes is part of why I count this film among my favorites of all time. A moving, educational, gut wrenching, whimsical, sweeping epic that is unafraid of being as dramatic as the historical events it chronicles actually were. This movie is crazy underrated.
Nowhere near the perfect Raise the red lantern (which deals with universal themes) but a veritable document transposing historical events onto the family. The tragedy of the family reflects the tragedy of the nation. While this may require the construction of coincidences, To Live represents one of the few films that attempt to grapple with Mao's China.
An engrossing, compassionate film about a family that's just trying to elad a tranquil life in the midst of tumultuous times. Zhang Yimou plays it safe by staying away from the more disturbing aspects of 20th-century Chinese history, but the plot feels real and the characters are immensely believable.