Life is a Miracle – a movie review

August 4, 2011

Life is a Miracle with Zhang Ziyi (twenty-two films including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – 2000, and Memoirs of a Geisha –2005) and Aaron Kwok (45 films) was released in China 2011 and as a DVD in the US. For those interested in seeing what life is like in a remote area of China, I recommend this movie but as a film about HIV/AIDS it fails compared to Philadelphia (1993 – Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington).

The film, adapted from a novel, tells a tragic love story between two AIDS-afflicted lovers. Kwok develops a crush on Zhang Ziyi’s character, also an AIDS patient.

Changwei Gu (the director) did not capture the horror of HIV/AIDS in this film.  However, in Philadelphia the true reality of HIV/AIDS is depicted dramatically through Tom Hanks’ character.  In Life as a Miracle, the stars are just as healthy and sexy at the end as they were early in the film.

Instead, the film seems to be a story of two thirty year olds spurned by their spouses and the healthy villagers. The two turn to each other to fulfill the need for companionship, love, youthful lust and much sex.  If you enjoyed Zhang Ziyi in Memoirs of a Geisha and her other work, then you may enjoy watching her in this film. She does not disappoint.

There was one obvious flaw in the film. The only people infected with HIV/AIDS got it while sharing the same needle giving blood.  The symptoms of the disease then come on so fast, that their spouses were never infected. This is unrealistic since HIV often hides for years or decades before it becomes AIDS.  For most, it would have been impossible to realize they carried the virus until it was too late and their spouses were infected, which is the main reason the disease has become a global epidemic.

I also found that the subtitles were too small and difficult to read. However, I managed to understand what was going on.

I easily get teary eyed in films that tug at the heart. In fact, my wife and daughter know me well enough that when a dramatic scene of this nature comes on screen, they usually glance in my direction to see if the “compassion” bug has kicked in.

That didn’t happen once while watching Life is a Miracle. In addition, when I lose interest in a movie, I often fall asleep.  That did not happen with this film.  For me, the rural Chinese setting and the supporting actors mostly carried the movie.

Discover Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, another Chinese film


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Human Rights – East versus West

July 24, 2010

The loudest voices for human rights originate in the West where the individual has more value than the whole. In China, the opposite is true. In China, the emphasis is on collective rights, which explains why China has the death penalty with the highest execution rate in the world.  The idea is to get rid of individual threats to the collective welfare.

Dr. Sun Yat-sin (1866 – 1925), who is celebrated in mainland China and in Taiwan as the father of modern China, said it best, “An individual should not have too much freedom. A nation should have absolute freedom.”

Interpreted, that means individuals in China will not have the level of freedoms as exercised in Western nations and even if China were to hold democratic elections, that situation will probably not change. Human rights in China does exist but from a collective point of view.

Joe Amon, writing in the Huffington Post, shows his ignorance of Chinese culture when he says, “But the government should be held to account for stifling the work and voices of Chinese AIDS activists and nongovernmental organizations.”

To work for change in China, one must understand the collective thought process of most Chinese.  If change is to take place, it must come from within China and it must be done from a collective point of view. In fact, it is culturally taboo to talk about HIV/AIDS in China since the Chinese seldom talk publicly about the so called white-elephant in the room anyway.

See Human Rights the Chinese Way


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.