For those of you who haven’t seen Mao’s Last Dancer yet, do yourselves a favour and go. This biographical movie must be one of the most beautiful and enjoyable movies I have ever seen. It is inspirational and moving, and will surely remain as one of my all time favorites.
Not having read the book, I wasn’t all that sure of what to expect, and after a colleague had suggested it would be sub-titled, I was inwardly groaning well before I made my way to the cinema. Thankfully I can report the sub-titles are minimal and fleeting, with the majority of the dialogue in English.
But back to the movie, and a very brief synopsis.
The movie covers the period of Li Cunxin’s life where he is chosen/taken from his extremely poor and rural home by the Chinese government – in 1972 – to attend the Beijing Arts Academy. Once there he gains an education, but more importantly he learns the art of ballet. As he reaches adulthood and the demise of Mao’s regime arrives, he is given a rare opportunity to dance with the Houston Ballet Company, for a period of 3 months, at which point you see Li leaving China with little more than a new suit and a mindful of Chinese propaganda.
Surprisingly, at the end of this period Li decides to remain in the US and a major international incident between China and the US erupts.
You’ll have to see the movie to see the outcome as I’m not going to spoil it for you. But suffice to say he has to make a decision, one that many of us would not do. Or perhaps we would, who knows.
The ballet is beautiful, the humbleness of Li Cunxin is amazing and the story is truly wonderful.
As I said at the beginning, do yourself a favour and go see Mao’s Last Dancer.
Link to interview with Li Cunxin: