The inspirational true story, adapted from a best-selling autobiography, of a small boy’s extraordinary journey from poverty to international stardom. From a grueling apprenticeship as a classical dancer in communist China, to the glory of creative freedom in America. Mao’s Last Dancer captures the intoxicating effects of first love and celebrity, the pain of exile, and ultimately the triumph of individual endeavour over ideology.
“Bruce Beresford’s handsome movie version captures the epic simplicity of Li’s story — astonishing luck coupled with a fierce determination — and stirs strong primal emotions about love of family, country, personal freedom…Sardi and Beresford marshal this rich material with precision, treating it as a ‘hero journey’, a mythic tale of victory over impossible odds… The film is a must for ballet-lovers and a strong arthouse contender… Cao, Chinese-born-and-trained Principal Dancer of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, leaps, soars and spins just as brilliantly as the movie requires.” –Screen International
Perhaps the least lionized of the Australian New Wave filmmakers, Bruce Beresford has developed a reputation for drawing extraordinary performances from his actors, as well as enjoying great success making stage plays work on film. Much-acclaimed for historical dramas of social and moral conflict, he surprisingly first made his name with low comedy, delighting in juvenile scatology that horrified critics while regaling the Australian public. Though he had always wanted to make films, he had to leave his native country to do so, and when England proved inimical, he applied for and got a job as a film editor (and sometime cameraman) in Nigeria, remaining there until the Nigerian civil war broke out in 1967. Returning to England, he secured a position as a films officer for the Production Board of the British Film Institute, but on a visit to Australia in 1971, he found its film community in a state of high excitement over the formation of the Australian Film Commission. Within a matter… read more
No film review will be read more eagerly this week than Scott Foundas's piece for the cover of the September/October issue of Film Comment