Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

Watch Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

  • R
  • 1999
  • 1 hr 39 min
  • 7.4  (3,649)

Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl is a 1998 Chinese film directed by Joan Chen, which depicts the political and social changes that happened in China's Cultural Revolution era. The movie is set in the 1970s when China was divided into factions and the Communist Party sent many urban-educated youth to the countryside to work and learn from the rural labor community. The film tells the story of a young girl named Xiu Xiu (Xiaolu Li), who is sent to the Tibetan grasslands to serve and teach the nomads there. Despite leaving her family behind, Xiu Xiu is enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve Mao's China and obtain a red certificate of graduation.

Xiu Xiu is assigned to be the apprentice of Lao Jin (Lopsang), a kind, old Tibetan horse trainer who helps her adapt to the lifestyle of the grasslands. But soon, Xiu Xiu finds that the hard manual labor and the lifestyle there are much different than she imagined. Xiu Xiu soon loses her enthusiasm for her mission and becomes homesick. She decides to escape with her new Tibetan boyfriend, the horseman Ke Ke (Zheng Qian), and seek her way home.

The movie shows the harshness of the environment which Xiu Xiu has to adapt to, portraying the nomads' way of life, including their clothes, food, and culture. The camera work in the film captures the gorgeous landscape of Tibet, which contrasts with the film’s heavy and sad tone. The film also touches on the issue of animal cruelty, which is a common practice in the nomadic community.

Chen has depicted Xiu Xiu's innocence powerfully, and the audience can clearly see her struggles in the film. Xiaolu Li's performance as Xiu Xiu is outstanding, as she showcases emotion through a restrained perception. Her longing for home, the fear of danger, and the anxiety of uncertainty is conveyed both facially and bodily.

Lao Jin's character serves as a mentor to Xiu Xiu, who considers the girl as his daughter. He teaches her many things about Tibet, the nomads, and the horses, as well as providing profound knowledge and advice. But there is also an air of sorrow and despair among the older generation of Tibetans, particularly during the closing parts of the film. The older generation's way of life is dwindling, their culture and traditions fading, and they are not sure if their efforts to pass their traditions on will be successful.

The relationship between Ke Ke and Xiu Xiu, which is a central component of the film, is not given much backstory, and it isn't intensified throughout the movie. However, it is clear that Ke Ke offers Xiu Xiu a necessary companionship during her desperate times, and both characters get closer to one another while losing hope in their respective worlds.

The musical score of the film consigns to the isolation, interiority, and unease that Xiu Xiu feels in her unfamiliar surroundings. It is very harmonious with the overall tone of the film and emphasizes the sorrow and sense of hopelessness that characterizes it.

In all, Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl is a beautifully shot film. The film emits desolation and misery, presenting a sorrowful account of a young girl's journey in Maoist China. The cinematography, performance, and musical score are all incredibly synchronized, sending a straight forward and raw message to the audience. It's a must-watch for individuals interested in the history of China, as well as for those who crave powerful images and storytelling.

Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 39 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (3,649)