The story is based on a best-selling novel about two teenage boys during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Luo, described as having “a genius for storytelling“, and the unnamed narrator, “a fine musician”. They are assigned to re-education through labor and are sent to a remote mountain area called “Phoenix of the Sky” near Tibet to work in the coal mines and with the rice crop because their doctor’s parents have been declared enemies of the state by the communist government. The two boys fall in love with the Little Seamstress, the daughter of the local tailor and “the region’s reigning beauty”. Residents of the small farming village are delighted by the stories the two teenagers retell from classic literature and movies that they have seen. They are even excused from work for a few days to see films at a nearby town and later retell the story to the townspeople, through a process known as “oral cinema”.
This 2002 film is in Mandarin and French with English Subtitles and has a running time of 111 minutes.