A young girl, a child really, lays helplessly on her wobbly bed, while a man copulates repeatedly on top of her, from early afternoon to night. With half-opened eyes, she looks through her red transparent scarf at this man who is her hope of returning home. Trapped in the midst of the destructive Cultural Revolution, Xiu Xiu, a girl in her teens, is sent out of her city, Chengdu, to work in the countryside. This short, but very poignant film captures the hopelessness during China’s most turbulent decades. The Cultural Revolution destroyed family ties and ripped a whole generation of kids from their relatives. This film is part of the Cultural Revolution’s story.
Xiu Xiu starts off as an innocent schoolgirl, ready to do her duty for China. She excitedly receives her uniform and proudly ties a red scarf around her neck. Xiu Xiu isn’t naive, she knows what men hint to her and it repulses her. When Xiu Xiu is ordered to go to Tibet to herd, Lao Jin, an experienced herder, takes on an almost paternal air with her. Xiu Xiu is a sharp-tongued thing, but we forgive her because she’s young and still has dreams.
But eventually, Xiu Xiu wants to return to Chengdu, to her family. A peddler tells her that almost all the pretty girls have gone home. So begins Xiu Xiu’s descent from innocence to selling herself for a ticket to Chengdu. Throughout it all though, somehow, she manages to preserve a pureness about her, a childish aura that helps her cling to her hopes.
Set in practically the most picturesque spots of China, the film’s scenery, music, and superb actors appeal to our hearts and smoothly propel the story to its tragic end. Only those who have been a part of the Cultural Revolution can ever fully understand the emotional changes it wrought in its citizens, but "Xiu Xiu: The Sent-down Girl" gives those of us who only know the Cultural Revolution through study, a taste that I imagine to be pretty close to the real thing.Posted in movies