Compare two or three films that center on the theme of come-of-age in the context of urban/rural divide

Term Paper
Visual Arts & Film Studies
5 pages (1250 words)

Comparison of two films that centre on the theme of come-of-age

Irrespective of whether one comes from a peasant family or a rich background, the theme of come of age is indiscriminate. In fact, it cuts in all walks of life in the context of rural urban lifestyles. There is no doubt that all cultures in the world have experienced the wave of modernization, which has had a tremendous impact on the way of life especially among the youth. People take pride in the way they are brought in regards to education, social setting as well as the skills they acquire. People have a pride in living the modern way, which seems to be universally accepted since it offers new light as well as exposure to different cultures and ways of doing things. China and Taiwan have been no exception hence urbanization is evident in these countries. The past few decades have seen both China and Taiwan experience substantial urbanization whose influence has been mainly the western culture. The social changes are more noticeable to the older generations who are the custodians of the traditional customs and practices which they claim to have been overlooked. This claim by the older generations may be stands ground since they have a valid complaint given that formal education has absolutely replaced informal education.

However, it possible for the old and news to coexist. The up bring of the young ones has dynamic aspects since they experience both the old and new cultures. This  unlike the older generations who were only exposed to old traditional values. Furthermore, the old guards resisted the onset of the new culture to preserve the old values. During personal growth, an individual experiences cultural encounters in complexity of the real world. Two films will be analyzed for illustrating how the western culture has contributed in defining the theme of come-of age, regarding the role of civilization among different cultures. Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Dust in the Wind and Dai Sijie’s: Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress.

Dust in the wind, is quintessentially relevant to the theme of come-of-age mainly because, the characters involved leave their traditional setting to experience unfamiliar work place with people of different cultures and values. The young persons in this film, Huen and Wan live in rural Taiwan, which is a minute traditional neighborhood. Taipei is within the infrastructure of a train commute transport. Taipei is the economy, which the young, adults in this film result to in order to earn a living for their up keep after quitting school which their parents were opposed to. The film, Dust in the wind addresses the theme of come-of-age in an explicit manner since the migration of the young adults is such a rebellion against their parents in their quest to venture to explore life in their youthful life. The young adults perceive themselves as independent beings responsible for their lives hence they move to the city seeking to abandon their simple life. This is common young people in the United States move to the city, in mere excitement of their prospects. However, their decision to move to Taipei does not prove as awarding as they expected it to be. Urbanization is the overall factor dictating the economy of Taipei whose civilization has consequently created social classes that defines what form of employment is available, as well as to whom. In fact, the knowledgeable, experience people get the well paying jobs whereas, the young, uneducated population is subjected to tough poor paying jobs. Age is definitely a major factor that influences employment. The plight of both characters, Wan and Huen, make them to find their way out to survive in the world around them. Wang is a quit character who is growing intellectually through the vast life encounters that come his way. Wan is faced by the challenge of coping up with a tedious employment in the city alongside her girlfriend. At this instance, he is grown up enough to be in a relationship with a female counterpart with the intention of marrying her. The menial employment in the rural setting was much worse by far compared to what the town had to offer. Wan and his girlfriend experience separation once he joins military service. The adult life is not a bed of roses for Wan as he become of age with the responsibility of being a military man, which he has to balance with his relationship with his girlfriend. The life of Wan and Huen is in a context that leads him to appreciate the dynamics of an adult a lifestyle.

Dai Sijie’s: Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress explores the theme of come of age in a different approach from Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Dust in the wind. The characters in Dai Sijie’s: Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress go through a self-discovery phase, in which they mature from adolescent age to young adults. Dai Sijie’s characters in this film are quite rich in relation to the theme of come of age, since the give the impression of a real lifestyle of any other adolescent in their journey to adulthood. In fact, the knowledge and understanding of other cultures, religion and ways of life of other community is something a person attains in his youth. In Dai Sijie’s: Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress, the young bourgeoisie men are in sheer excitement of what life has to offer when they are sent to Maoist re-education camp that is administered by peasants. The films centers on the story of the two young men, Ku Chen and Liu Ye who fall in love with a seamstress who resides in the mountain village. During their time at the re-education camp, both Ku Chen and Liu Ye have undergone drastic experiences that usher them into adulthood. The most significant change is that the young men develop defiance. This is evident at their encounter with of the adherents of Mao’s little Red Book where the deviously report to the chief about the “Mozart I s Always Thinking Of Chairman Mao.” The two young men steals the books of banned literature work and teach it to the Little Seamstress in a cave referred to as “The Book Grotto”. In fact, Ku Chen is absolutely determined to take the seamstress out the world of ignorance. Ku Chen achieves to do this by teaching the seamstress the literature that he and Liu Ye stole from the Hongwei Wang who is their colleague at the re-education camp. Interestingly, both Ku Chen and Liu Ye come know the seamstress from their adventurous behavior in which they went out to watch girls bathing at the waterfall. Ku Chen and Liu Ye become openly defiant long before they are sent to the re-education, since it was their rebellion against their parents that result in them being sent there.

At the camp, both Ku Chen and Liu Ye are entirely aware of what is expected since they have already become of age. However, they are treacherous with a stern determination to have fun and enjoy their time at the camp. The theme of come of age entails assuming adult responsibility in which Ku Chen and Liu Ye provide labor by carrying huge loads at the camp. In additional, both Ku Chen and Liu Ye are also charged with the responsibility of providing physical labor in the mines. Both Ku Chen and Liu Ye land a fantastic opportunity that is substantially crucial in life at the camp; when chief assigns them the responsibility to watch Korean movies to later retell them to the peasants to entertain them. At this stage, Ku Chen and Liu Ye have become part of the community giving them a sense of belonging. Every society expects its adolescents to mature into responsible young adults who will be of use to the society. Ku Chen and Liu Ye prove that they are responsible by the service that they provide to the society. In addition, Ku Chen is quintessentially, an exemplary character who proves his knowledge about dentistry by provide an excellent solution to the problem of Liu Ye’s illness.


Dust in the Wind Dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien. Perf. Shufang Chen, Lawrence Ko and Tianlu Li MGM Home Entertainment, 1987 DVD.

Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress Dir. Dai Sijie. Perf Xun Xhou, Ku Chen and Liu Ye Columbia Tristar Home Video, 2002 DVD.