Analysis Of Zhang Yimou's To Live

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Even though Yu Hua, the author of novel To Live, is also the scriptwriter of Zhang Yimou’s film To Live, the philosophies of life in the novel and the film are apparently different. The most impressive part of the novel is the “excavation” of humanity: having experienced the loss of wealth, family and friends, Fugui is still attempting to live in this world. By telling the readers the miserable life of Fugui, the novel actually more wants to show the dark side of Chinese society. However, the film concentrates on elaborating the improvement of the character’s life, by showing the change of time and the optimism of Fugui. Therefore, different motifs and atheistic skills of the novel and film create different perspectives on character’s life philosophy. In this essay, my thread is tri-folded: firstly, I will discuss about the different interpretations about the Taoism concept Wu Wei in both novel and film; secondly, I will focus on the strategies that the novel and the film use to build up the personalities of characters; finally, I will move on how these elements build up the personalities of characters and how they impact on the philosophies of life in both film and novel. Shortly speaking, in the novel, the concept of Taoism supported Fugui to live on when tragedies happened in his life; however, in the film, becoming Fugui’s life philosophy, the concept of Taoism gave him the optimism to comply the changes between different ages.
First of all, the novel and film actually have different interpretations on Wu Wei, one of the most important ideas in Taoism. A simple way to think of the concept is to consider Wu Wei as non-action, which means do nothing against the world. In the original Taoism book, Wu Wei is often associated wit...

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...ui’s life. Also, Zhang Yimou’s To Live is a meaningful, strong and deep-thinking film, based on Zhang Yimou’s vision which is involved with about fifty years of Chinese modern history, including several stages like Civil War, Land Reform and Cultural Revolution. Without using the narrative ways in the book, he could accurately and freely express his views about the chaotic age in history by telling the audience the simple but meaningful story of Fugui, who was actually an person experienced from rich to poor through the era. Both the novel and the film are full of expectations of life. It shows the audience that for those ordinary people, even though they lived in chaotic times and they experienced many kinds of losses, they could still held their beliefs of life, keeping learning and understanding the meaning of life and came up with their own life philosophies.

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