Tian Zhuangzhuang, a charter member of China's politically beleaguered, so-called Fifth Generation of Directors (along with Ju Dou's Zhang Yimou), made this film about the gradual disintegration of an entire family targeted by Mao's political reformation movements of the '50s and '60s. Told in a series of three stories, the audience sees the little boy Tietou and his mother try and try again to rebuild their lives from the ashes left them by the madness of the era. Director Tian works from a palette of primary colors on widescreen images that are often fixed in an icy-white Kubrickian glare of omnipresent paranoia. Yet much of The Blue Kite is resplendent with palpable signs of ordinary life: noisy kids, happy weddings, loud mealtimes. Tian amplifies the human element of these heady days, so that viewers may genuinely feel the humanity ripped from this story as events overtake and shatter all hope.
by Tom Keogh synopsis