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From celebrated director Chen Kaige (Temptress Moon and Farewell My Concubine) comes a film of mesmerizing visual beauty that combines grand-scale spectacle with the philosophical pursuits of the individual.

Set against the awesome backdrop of the barren mountains and plains of inner Mongolia, Life On A String unfurls a profound tale of a master and pupil, old and young, both completely blind, who wander the sun-scorched earth in an aimless quest for enlightenment. They express themselves through heartfelt song and the fragile banjos they carry, living for the fulfillment of the prophecy that when the thousandth string breaks, the player will be rewarded with the sight and wisdom they so vigilantly pursue. The path before them is laden with new experiences: for the student, a sexual awakening with a peasant girl; for the saint, an ongoing battle with his failing health. At other times they confront more frightening obstacles, as when they stumble onto a battle in which massive armies clash in the desert wasteland.

Chen made Life On A String "in the hope of a better future, not only for the Chinese, but for the world." The director's high aspirations are borne out in the resulting masterpiece, a sensitive parable that examines the difficult quest for enlightenment in a land torn by political unrest.

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KI2332 Life On A String DVD (1992/Chen Kaige) $29.95 $26.99