In 1971, during China’s Cultural Revolution, two young 'reactionary’ city teenagers (Kun Chen, Ye Liu) – sons of writers - are sent to a remote mountain village for re-education in the ways of revolutionary Maoist peasants. The village seamstress, pretty granddaughter of the revered local tailor (Shuangbao Wang), attracts their attention and they take her under their wing, reading to her from forbidden foreign books and generally opening her mind to literature and what it reflects. Both men fall in love with her, but neither can keep her as she responds to the stimulus of a world of ideas beyond her village.
 

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Two youths fall in love with the village tailor\'s granddaughter.

During the Cultural Revolution in China in the early 1970s, Luo, the son of Chaing Kai-shek\'s dentist, and Ma are condemned as the sons of \'reactionary intellectuals\' and are sent to a remote part of the country to learn about life from the illiterate inhabitants of a small village. Here, the young city men have to undertake exhausting manual chores, like carrying heavy, overflowing barrels of human excrement, which is used for fertilizer. They are carefully supervised by the village Head Man. But both young men fall under the spell of the beautiful grand-daughter of the local tailor - they never know her name, but she captivates them with her innocence and sensuality, and when they discover a hidden suitcase filled with banned Western books, mostly French, they charm her by reading Flaubert, Dumas and Balzac to her. This very westernized Chinese-French co-production was directed by Dai Sijie and based on his semi-autobiographical novel -like the young men in the story, Dai was forced to undergo \'re-education\' during the Cultural Revolution. It\'s a very romanticized view of this harsh period of recent Chinese history, and the casting of three beautiful young actors tends to add to the feeling of unreality. But the location camerawork, by Jean-Marie Drejou, is exceptionally beautiful, making the film very easy on the eye.