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Critic's Pick

'To Live'

February 25, 1996|Kevin Thomas

Zhang Yimou's masterful 1994 "To Live" takes us from the turbulent, treacherous China of the '40s civil war to the brutal Cultural Revolution and beyond. Through the lives of one couple, it charts a course of hardship and tragedy symbolic of the Chinese capacity to endure and to hope for a better future. "To Live" possesses both vast scope and intimacy, humor and sorrow, complex characterizations and an awareness of the role fate plays in all our destinies. In a small town in Northern China an indolent young man, Xu Fugui (Ge You), gambles away his family's fortune but discovers he has a real aptitude for putting on puppet shows. Gong Li (pictured) plays Xu's beautiful, dutiful wife (Cinemax Wednesday at 8 p.m.).

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