Tragic separations and amazing reunions

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REVIEW BY SARAH STEPHEN

Song of Tibet
Directed by Xie Fei
2001 Sydney Film Festival

Set in Lhasa, in the hills of Tibet, Song of Tibet captures much of the rugged beauty of the country. In recalling her life, Yixi takes us back to the 1950s, when she was in her youth.

The film is punctuated with hauntingly beautiful Tibetan songs and music, as Yixi sings the words from love poems written by the sixth Dalai Lama.

An epic tale of tragic separations and amazing reunions, Yixi's life has been the struggle to survive within and apart from the love of the three men, amid a half-century's tumultuous history.

Born into a peasant family, Yixi is treated in a very domineering way by all the men in her life. In her youth, she captivated three very different men.

Jiacuo, a wandering trader, has a crush on her at first sight, so he kidnaps and marries her. However, married life isn't happy. Jiacuo's wandering habits and poverty force Yixi to work for Gongsa, a young noble, as a nanny and she gives birth to a son with him. When Jiacuo finds this out, he takes their daughter away with him, and Gongsa takes the son. Yixi then meets Songqiu Lama, a childhood friend who became a monk, and treks huge distances across Tibet to find her husband and daughter.

Fifty years later, as Jiacuo is dying of lung cancer, Yixi's granddaughter, Dawa, reunites the four of them one last time.

Directed by one of China's most prominent film makers, Xie Fei, this beautiful story is his first Tibetan language film, shot solely with Tibetan actors.

Censorship displaced some scenes from the film, which was set during the beginning of China's post-1966 power struggle between the Mao and Deng factions of the ruling Communist party bureaucracy — the "Cultural Revolution".

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