ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Movie Rags to Riches Story

Updated on October 29, 2010

Mao’s Last Dancer is a surprising and powerful story of a child being raised in unimaginable poverty and then through some fortuitous events escaping the harsh life into which he was born. In a way this movie tells a rags to riches story.

Li Cunxin (Mao’s Last Dancer) was living in a remote village in China and this movie is his story.

His family was large, incredibly poor but loving. Members of the party scoured the countryside to find young children to train in Madam Mao’s Ballet Academy in Beijing. Li Cunxin was one of the chosen boys - one of 40 chosen from millions of children. Before being taken from his loving family and village life he was subjected to rigorous tests of ability. Once selected for the short list, his parents were interviewed by party officials to ensure they were loyal to the ideals and principles of Mao. They passed.

Li’s mother worked nights to stitch a quilt for him to take with him. Li Cunxin, struggled in the ballet school. He missed the love of his mother, his family and brothers. He wasn’t very good and when his teacher ridiculed him for his lack of strength, Li fought back. But Li had perseverance and learned to love ballet and devote time, when the other boys were sleeping to work on his strength. He wanted to make his family proud and represent his country.

Li was chosen to attend the prestigious Houston Ballet. The trip to the United States confuses the young man and forces him to re-evaluate all he’s learned about the west from the teachings in his own country. Watching him struggle with the conflict is particularly well done.

But it’s his story, the dedication to his craft and the dancing I came to love. He stays in the USA to dance for Houston Ballet and is banned from re-entering China for many years. The dance sequences in the movie are thrilling and lend another, strongly visual facet to the book I had read a few years earlier.

What didn’t I like about the movie? Too many longing looks at the family photograph. Although most of the flashbacks were superbly handled so the movie goer was able to identify the time period very quickly, for me there were a few too many of them and occasionally at odd times. Twice these ruined the tension built-up in the sequence.

Aside from those niggles, the movie built beautifully, holding tension and my attention throughout.

It’s a very powerful movie. I was well prepared as Li Cunxin was a keynote speaker at a conference I attended a few years ago. His presentation in person and his story moved me then.

I had also read the book, which shares the same title as the movie - Mao’s Last Dancer so I was ready with the tissues during critical points. Bruce Beresford’s direction of the movie did not let me down and the extra tissues were well used.

Sometimes movies made from well known books can disappoint but not this movie. I recommend the movie, the book and, if you get an opportunity to hear Li Cunxin as a keynote speaker, grab it with both hands. You will leave with tears in your eyes (even if you don't like ballet) and will certainly join the queue to buy his marvelous book.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Thanks for stopping by Sam. It is wonderful to think that he came from unbelievable poverty to world acclaim. He is such a talented man.

    • Sam Wyach profile image

      Sam Wyach 

      9 years ago

      I enjoyed that review very much!I will lookout for that movie. I would love to see it.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)