To Live

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: +1

A Chinese family's personal tragedies and victories become tangled up in the political upheavals taking place in China from the 1940s through the 1960s. Fugui (Ge You) and Jiazhen (Gong Li) live in his family home with their young daughter and Fugui's well-to-do elderly parents. Fugui, unfortunately, is addicted to gambling, eventually losing everything, including their home. A pregnant Jiazhen takes their daughter, leaving her husband a destitute beggar. However, she returns after their son is born. Fugui has learned how much his family means to him, and starts a career as a puppeteer, traveling from village to village. By now Chiang Kai Shek's army is losing to the Liberation Army. The family is separated again when Fugui is taken prisoner. With his fierce will to survive and return home, Fugui convinces his captors he can entertain the troops with his puppets. By the time he makes his way home, he discovers his wife has survived by delivering water to the villagers. Their daughter has suffered a life-threatening illness that has left her mute. Again, this determined family picks up the pieces and starts over. Amazingly, Fugui and Jiazhen always find humor in the most dismal circumstances. The Chinese dialogue and English subtitles do not take away from the enjoyment of this intense, intelligent family drama.

TO LIVE should be required viewing for social studies classes and anyone whining about the price of postage stamps. Under communist rule the government confiscates anything of value for the good of the people. Even families' iron cooking vessels are taken to the smelter to manufacture steel weapons. Meals are eaten at the communal, with everyone eating the same thing. Doctors are replaced by young nursing students who are incapable of handling life-threatening situations. Still, this remarkable family adjusts, never losing hope for a better tomorrow and never complaining about what they have lost. Some intense scenes are not appropriate for children, including a closeup of a soldier suffering a mortal wound and a field of thousands of dead soldiers. Also, a young woman bleeding to death during childbirth and the bloody body of a young boy killed are both upsetting, but not gratuitous. One obscenity and two regular profanities are spoken, but there is no sexual content. This family has something to say to all of us about loving and forgiving.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Samuel Goldwyn Co., 10203 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067-6403

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (2) times - Mild

Obscene Language: Once (s-word)

Profanity: Few (3) times - Regular (G-d) 2, Exclamatory 1

Violence: Few times - Moderate (soldier with bloody wound; closeups of dead soldiers; boy spanked; boy's bloody body; bloody aftermath of childbirth)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Few times (alcohol drinking; drunkenness)

Other: Gambling (negative portrayal); man urinates on wall; strong family values

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Older teenagers and adults

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