“To Live” Theme Analysis

This is a blogspot regarding the movie “To Live”. The main focus for this post will be the themes that are present in the movie. Read more!

The theme that this post will be focused on will be acceptance as well as the Coming of Age theme. The scene chosen is between 1:36:39 (hour:minute:time) and 1:37:20. A quick summarisation is that it is a wedding shared between Xu FengXia and Wan Erxi. In the end, Fengxia leaves with Erxi to begin a new life.

Though marriage maintains a strong presence within this time period, acceptance plays a large role in this scene. In the beginning of the timestamp 1:36:39, the newlywed (Fengxia) and the groom (Erxi) greet the brides’ parents. This is a standard Chinese marriage tradition, where the groom would ask the father (Fugui) if he would take care of his daughter before he swoops her away. Fugui has to accept that even though he partially re-entered his daughters life again, he has to let her go. This is similar to the mother, Jiazhen. Unlike Fugui, she Jiazhen shares stronger ties with Fengxia. This is particularly due to the fact that she has stuck with her daughter throughout her entire life, especially when Fengxia fell dangerously sick and lost her voice. Additionally, parents usually want their children to have better lives than their own, or their own childhood. Knowing this, Jiazhen accepts the fact that her daughter will live a better life than her own.

(Fugui and Erxi meet face to face. 1:36:40)





The second theme is the Coming of Age. Somewhere half-way through the given timestamp, Fengxia follows her groom, as per Chinese tradition. The adults, who can represent old traditions and beliefs, watch as the majority of the youth moves forward, particularly, their own daughter. Within this large crowd, Fengxia stands out from the rest, as she is surrounded by countless blue-colored-shirt-men. This assumed that her clothes are different from the others as she has stayed with parents’ sides for her entire life, and is only now entering the full world of China. However, as she is walking with her husband, Fengxia makes several glances backwards towards her parents, eventually turning her body around fully. This indicates that she is hesitant in starting a new life with her husband. As previously mentioned, Jiazhen holds a strong bond between herself and her daughter, and it even brings her to tears during Fengxia’s wedding. Jiazhen genuinely wishes a better life for her daughter, and that by following Erxi, she can obtain happiness by without her parents. With this, Jiazhen encourages her daughter to follow her own generation, and eventually they leave Fugui and Jiazhen away. This shows the growth that Fengxia has experience throughout the movie as she progresses through the next stages of her life from child, to adult.

(FengXia looking back at her family. 1:36:55)


One thought on ““To Live” Theme Analysis”

  1. I really like the ideas that are being shared here, especially the one about FengXia coming of age. However, I think you can really bring these ideas into sharper focus by analyzing the visual elements that are being used in the scenes and by making the themes you identified more specific. Just as a general direction, your acceptance theme could be workshopped by giving it more focus (e.g. “The persistence of human altruism even in times of hardship).

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