Published Apr 01, 2000Zhang Yimou's new dramatic film, Not One Less is presented with a delicacy of life and an air of joy. It deals with themes of devotion, equality and complexity of guilt, among many others. Eloquent visual montages and vivid cinematography reflect the beauty of the story. It truly captures modern social conflicts, not only in rural China but throughout our growing global community, and the necessary means of survival for a small village are depicted as realistically painful.
A young girl must replace a teacher of a primary school, filled with students not much younger than herself. She struggles with responsibility and burden of labour, demonstrating a diversity of ideals and satisfaction in human nature. The creative collaborators allow this film to prosper intellectually. The challenge of choosing and directing an entire cast of non actors displays a unique talent in the process of filmmaking. Not having read the script, the cast is natural with free flowing dialog, improvisation and hidden cameras. Each character's role is similar to their daily life. Other than his first film, Red Sorghum, only seasoned professionals were used in Yimou's successful projects Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern and his last film, Keep Cool.
This government-sanctioned film has caused some controversy from critics arguing that it's a form of propaganda, but the moral and social themes make Not One Less a film about life, not "us or them."