Live questions

To Live, 1994 dir. Zhang Yimou

  1. A progressive view of history, within which both the communists and the nationalists understand modern Chinese experience, is predicted on the belief that there is progress in the way society evolves (through social change). Is history linear or cyclical, considering what happens to Fugui? 社会进步是了解中国现代史的一个视角;在这个故事中,历史是不断进步的呢还是不断重复的?举例说明。
  1. Does Fugui have reasons to believe in social progress? From his perspective, what are the lessons he can learn from the most tumultuous years in Chinese history in which he is caught? 福贵有理由相信社会进步吗?从他的角度,中国现代史教会了他什么?
  1. Through the twists and turns in the story, do you see Zhang Yimou suggesting alternative worldviews as responsible for the way Fugui gambles away his fortune, escapes the violence of land reform, makes a living as a puppeteer, loses his son to a cause he believes in, etc.? 福贵赌丢了他的房子,却又幸免了土改的风险,在皮影戏班子干活,又在大跃进中丢了儿子,等等。张艺谋在通过福贵推荐什么样的历史观和世界观?
  1. How do you understand the fairytale Fugui keeps telling his children, “when chicks grow up, they’ll turn into geese, when the geese grow up, they’ll turn into sheep; when the sheep grow up, they’ll turn into cows”? What is the function and significance of this fairytale or myth? 福贵常常说给有庆的故事:小鸡长大了,就变成了鹅;鹅长大了,就变成了羊,羊长大了,就变成了牛,说明了什么?在故事中的意思是什么?
  1. Why is the story titled “To Live”? What does it mean in the context of the story? In what way does the story contribute to the issues of modern Chinese identity? 题目”活着“的意思是什么?它对现代中国人的文化价值与现代史有什么启示?
  1. Do you see correlation between desires and cravings on the one hand, and human suffering and disillusionment on the other? Do you see alternations between joy and sorrow, wealth and poverty, success and failure, and life and death? Where? 在故事中,欲望与人的痛苦有什么联系?富有与贫穷有什么关系?幸福与悲伤有什么联系?生与死有什么关系?
  1. What does Zhang Yimou suggest as responsible for human suffering that we see so much of in the film? 在故事中,我们看到很多悲哀和忧伤;张艺谋让我们看到是什么导致了这些人间的悲剧?
  1. Are there “bad people” and “good people” in the story, or are there only unforeseeable circumstances or meaningful coincidences beyond human comprehension? 在故事中,有”好人“和”坏人“吗?还是只有不可预知的巧合?
  1. What does Long’er shout to Fugui when he is taken to his execution? 龙二被枪毙之前对福贵喊什么?
  1. Town chief Niu is a confirmed communist with unwavering faith in Mao and Chinese revolution; given what happens to him, what does this character represent? 牛镇长是个坚定的革命者,对毛泽东思想坚信不疑;他在这个电影里代表什么?
  1. Why is professor Wang afraid of eating flour-based food? 王教授为什么不再敢吃面食了?
  1. The idea of karmic retribution is prominent throughout the film. What debts does Chinese modernity incur, and in what way, shape, or form are they paid off? 在故事中我们常常看到因果报应,看到人们在用各种不同的方式讨债或者还债。中国的现代化使人民欠下了哪些債,大家是以什么形式在还债?