Director: Zhuangzhuang Tian
Cast: Wenyao Zhang, Xiaoman Chen, Liping Lü, Quanxin Pu, Xuejian Li, Ping Zong, Hong Zhang
Let me prequel my writing here by first stating that I don't really feel comfortable and/or qualified enough to be making any sort of judgments on a film like this.
The Blue Kite is a monumental film, packed with history-- not only in the portrayed narrative, but the story of the film itself. Banned from China even before it was finished, the film was smuggled to Japan to be sold on other foreign markets. It remains today as one of the most honest outstanding films to tackle the difficult political atmosphere of 1960s Beijing.
On Dry Well Lane in 1953, a young Chinese couple marries with much celebration, family, and food. A year later, their son, Tietou, is born. The boy flies his blue kite in the lane, and the family lives a simple life where to know the happenings of the neighborhood, all they had to do was look out the window.
But as the political climate in China changes, so does the family. The film is broken into three sections: father, uncle, and stepfather-- in representation of the Hundred Flowers Campaign, The Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. Each change of the familial patriarch marks the change in China under Chairman Mao.
I thought the film was extremely thoughtful, and even though I studied these Chinese history topics extensively in school, I still found the film very hard to follow. A lot of events were shown in the film that the fresh-eyed viewer would need further explained, ie. the sparrow-killing leading to famine. I can see, however, to the more-educated eye how impactful this film is not only as a piece of art but also as a historical document.
I also think a lot of my confusion with this film comes with my complete naivety when it comes to Chinese film-making. This is something I look forward to remedying though, and I did like the film despite some of my inability to follow all of it.