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Yishan Qin

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Youth (Fanghua)

Youth (2017), directed by Xiaogang Feng, is a movie mainly about the fortunes of

a group of young men and women as they navigate social upheavals in China in the

1970s and 1980s. Youth is the latest movie (2017, December) directed by Xiaogang

Feng, one of the most well-known directors in China. The screen plays as written by

Geling Yan, whose life trajectory closely parallel to the story. Youth is one of the best

movies I have ever seen because of its background, its actors and actress, its

photographic methods and its main theme.

Youth begins in 1975 at a training center for a military dance troupe in China’s

southwestern region. Xiao Suizi (acted by Elane Zhong) serves as the narrator of the

movie. Liu Feng (acted by Huang Xuan), one of the dancers in the troupe, is well known

for his kindness. He Xiaoping (acted by Miao Miao), a recruit from Beijing, is eager to

show her talent to other members in the troupe. However, Xiaoping’s father has recently

been arrested for the crime of counterrevolutionary, which makes Xiaoping become the

“freak” in her troupe. Everyone in the troupe bullies her after knowing what happened

to her father, except Feng. As a result, Xiaoping wants to prove her devotion to Mao’s

Cultural Revolution by giving everything she can do to the troupe, but she quickly

notices that getting what she wants is much harder than she thought. Meanwhile, Feng

has long nursed a crush on one of the girls in the troupe and pays a steep price for it by
being expelled from the troupe to take part in the war. After suffering from bullying and

knowing what the troupe did to Feng, Xiaoping decides to leave the troupe and take

part in the war as a nurse.

Firstly, the production setting, costumes and makeups immediately reset the society

in 1970s in China and successfully take the audience to the stage of Mao’s Cultural

Revolution. The movie is full of the scene of dancing and singing. What actors and

actresses dance and sing in the movie are exactly the same as what people did in the

1970s. Instead of using too many beautiful words and detailed background introduction,

just with songs and dance moves, Youth successfully evokes memories from the 1970s

in China buried deeply in people’s mind. In addition, items director Feng put into the

movie also contribute to the success of the movie. For example, the orange cans that

Xiaoping eat often in the movie are designed exactly like they were from the 1970s. In

addition, the radio that people used in Youth is just the one that Feng borrowed from

the elders.

Most of the female leads are new to the screen, while they still bring great

performance to the audience. Since each character has completely different attitude

towards future at the last part of the movie, it is hard to act. However, every actors and

actress provide great performance to the audience. Even when everyone is doing the

same thing at the same time, for example, dancing, they all have their own purposes in

their minds. Some of them want to get attention from the audience, some of them

performed for some specific person. Actors and actresses still successfully show their

purposes from their moving. People can easily figure out what they are thinking about
just from the dance. In order to be close to the background of the movie, most of the

actors and actresses Feng chose were young men and women, and some of them even

had no acting experience before this movie. However, with the change in their facial

expression and even with changes in their speaking tones, everyone in this movie

successfully created emotional characters to the audience.

How Youth applies photographic method is also a noticeable advantage in Youth.

Unlike other high technic movies, Feng did not use too much technology to the movie.

What he did is to use the photography to describe the change in characters. For example,

there is a scene talking about the Xiaofeng get expelled from the troupe. In that scene,

Feng asked people to hold the camera and create an instability to the scene to show the

helplessness and disappointing of Xiaofeng to the audience. Furthermore, the color

Youth used also contribute to the success of the movie. When the movie talks about the

romantic comedies between young men and women, the whole color of the movie is

bright. What they wear and what they use are all in bright colors. However, when the

movie comes to the later part, Feng used dark colors to describe the ruthless of the war.

The change in photographic method gives audience deeper comprehension of the movie.

The whole theme of the movie is the best part of Youth. It sets the background at a time

that almost no young people know. However, Youth still successfully bring the young

audience to the movie by using the theme – a romantic comedy that young people are

interested in at the first part of the movie. Nevertheless, the whole theme of the movie

is not as simple as a romantic comedy. By giving a hook to the audience, Youth starts

to show its actual theme – discussion about people’s beliefs, kindness, selfishness and
reality. Even though the main theme is too hard to be understood by some of the

audience, Youth tells the theme in its own way and leave space to let audience imagen.

However, because there is plenty of historical information in Youth, this movie is

not suitable for young children or foreigners. As I mentioned before, Feng does not

spend too much time on introducing the background of the movie. It might be difficult

for people who completely have no idea of Chinese history to understand the movie.

“Only the people who never received kindness from others can tell others kindness.”

is what I learned from the movie. No doubtfully, Youth is one of the best movies in

Chinese movie history not only because of its scene but also because of its main theme.

Youth successfully evokes memories of adults at 1970s in China and interest of young

people to discover more about 1970s.

Postscript

1. Introduction

(with title, release date, background information, rate for the movie)

2. Summary of the movie

Explain what happened in the movie without telling the end and explain whether

the movie is successful or not. Whether I like the movie or not. Write my own thesis

statement.

3. Movie aspects

One of the reasons I like or do not like the movie.

Use examples to support my argument.

Write at least three different aspects in three single paragraphs.


4. Conclusion

The overall reaction after watching the movie and restate my opinions.

Include my recommendation to other viewers.

My potential audience to this movie review is the whole public, because I did not

explain some specific opinions to specific group of people. My format is not too formal.

My purpose of choosing this genre is to recommend this movie to other people by

telling them detailed reasons and without spoiling the movie. Movie review includes

writer’s own opinions about the movie, which provides audience more aspects of the

movie. I think the potential publication venues to my movie review is movie website.

Cover letter

Dear readers

After doing the peer review, I received some helpful feedback. I did not make a lot

of change to my introduction because both of my classmates said the summary was

clear enough. However, I noticed that my first paragraph is a little bit long. As a result,

I separate it into two parts. In addition, I also added a new paragraph to talk about the

limits about the movie and tried to narrow the range of audience. Furthermore, I rewrote

my conclusion because people who did peer review with me said my conclusion was

not strong enough. As a result, I restated my argument about this movie in my

conclusion.

I’m still confused about my contents after the second draft. Since I never wrote a
film review before, I do not know the structure of it. I also do not know if I explain all

the arguments clearly. There are plenty of arguments in my paper, so some of them

might be difficult to understand.

Thanks,

Yishan Qin