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5 Movies to Help You Learn about Chinese Culture

The following movies are all quite classic and reflect the basic ethics and culture of Chinese mainland. Watching these movies might help you form the different concepts on Chinese culture in terms of Chinese people's attitude to life, love & marriage, as well as food, society or medicine.

Attitude to life

活着 To Live 1994

All human beings in the world are searching for the meaning of life, however, many of them failed. What is meaning of living? “To live” are such simple words but contain a universe. The film depicts the life of one family in China, from the heady days of gambling dens in the 1940s to the austere hardship of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. The social change influences the whole family, they suffered a lot and finally only one of them survived. All they ask is a peaceful life together. This film carefully presents a picture of old Chinese society and how people fight for their fate.

Food culture

饮食男女 Eat Drink Men Women 1994

"Men and women in diet" is full of the gentle and elegant temperament of Chinese traditional culture. Although mediocre, it is realistic. It brings Chinese cooking art into family and emotional drama. The Chinese-style feast, the warm atmosphere of family reunion and the strong traditional atmosphere everywhere make the audience feel that this is a traditional Chinese-style film. The conflict of ideas between the younger generation and the older generation in the film, which stubbornly adheres to the inherent tradition, is the reality of modern Chinese families.

Love & Marriage

喜宴 The Wedding Banquet 1993

The distinct characteristic of this film is to deal with homosexuality with Chinese family ethics and the doctrine of the mean, so that this social problem which troubles almost all families can be solved in a comic way in the film. This way of dealing with homosexuality and the concept of homosexuality are oriental, and can even find a similar point of view in Chinese classical fiction. However, this story happened in the busiest and most modern city, New York, where classics and Modernities converge, where old and new ideas are embraced after conflicts. In his stories, Ang Lee conveys the perplexity, helplessness and tolerance of a traditional Chinese family in the face of modern concepts in modern society.


人在囧途 Lost on Journey 2010

Although the film is a comedy, what the "Funny Team" encountered along the way is a typical case with strong realistic meaning. And this comedy pays attention on people's livelihood. For example, the affairs of the affluent class represented by Chenggong Li and the debt-collecting migrant workers represented by Geng Niu all have realistic mappings. Their social status, stratum perspective and unique social psychology are easy to arouse the audience's psychological resonance. In addition to the comedy, the tragedy is contained in it. The end of the play exudes the beauty of human nature and touches the audience. Common people’s life shows in this film.

Medicine culture

刮痧 Gua Sha Treatment 2001

The main line of this film is the misunderstanding caused by traditional Chinese medicine scraping therapy, which reflects the touching story that Chinese people in foreign countries are trapped in various difficulties due to cultural conflicts, and then finally break through the difficulties due to people's sincerity and love. Focusing on the incomprehension caused by cultural differences between the East and the West, the theme has attracted more attention and even resonance from overseas and domestic Chinese.

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