Third Sister Liu
Andrew F. Jones is professor and Louis B. Agassiz Chair in Chinese in the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department, UC Berkeley.
Huang Wanqiu, Xia Zongxue, Zhang Ju-ke, Zhang Wen-jun,
A sharp-tongued crooning farm girl incites the masses against greedy landowners—through a singing competition!—in this eye-opening Communist musical, which manages to be surprisingly entertaining, vehemently anti-capitalist, and thanks to a striking setting within Guangxi’s limestone karst landscapes, quite beautiful. “Is that the one who loves singing and refuses to pay taxes?” demands Landlord Mo when news of tune-filled rabble-rouser Liu Sanjie reaches him; soon it’s time to throw down . . . in verse! Part of the film industry’s effort to showcase minority cultures aligned with state values, Third Sister Liu was based on Guangxi folk operas and a Zhuang legend, updated as an allegory of the Communist Revolution.