Hong ying tao (Red Cherry) (1995)
Director: Daying Ye.
Starring: Ke-Yu Guo (Chu-Chu), Vladmill Nizmiroff, Xiaoling Xu (Luo Xiaoman).
two Chinese students sent to Russia experience the German invasion of that country
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
This story is based on some of the Chinese student's true experiences at the Ivanov International School of the former Soviet Union during the period 1940-1945.
The new students arrive at the Ivanov International School in Moscow. Two Chinese students come in with Commander Vassiliyev. One of the school officials tells the commander that that they cannot take the new students. The other students are already two month into the new term.
Moscow, Ivanov International School, Winter 1940.
Principal Watkin brings in a young Chinese girl to serve as interpreter with the two new students. He tries to find out the background of the students. The girl, named Chu-Chu, says that she just studied at home. And the boy, named Luo Xiaoman, says that he was sent to the school to become a revolutionary. Their new teacher is Varvala Vassilievna. One of the first things the new Chinese students must learn is Russian. The two must give oral presentations in Russian to teachers and school mates. Luo makes his presentation first. Chu-Chu follows him and also follows him in the nature of her report, which is nearly identical to that of Luo's. The teacher stops her and tells her to give the class the real story of her background. So Chu-Chu begins again. She is thirteen years old and was born in Paris. Her grandmother brought her to China. Her mother never wanted her. And Chu-Chu witnessed the execution of her father by the KMT. He was cut in half, but still managed to say, looking directly at his daughter, that his child would carry on in the revolutionary struggle. These memories were very painful to Chu-Chu and the teacher apologizes to her for having to relive them. Chu-Chu runs out of the classroom.
A student named Carl with a Russian father and German mother likes Chu-Chu and she likes him. She was going to go to summer school, but changed her mind so she could stay near Carl. But when she rushes up to him in front of a group of boys and offers to help them fix the shower facility that they had earlier destroyed, she is ridiculed by all the boys including Carl. This upsets Chu-Chu very much and she retreats quickly. Carl regrets what he said and goes to look for Chu-Chu,but she has already left on the bus going to summer camp in Belarussia.
Belarussian Summer Camp, 1941.
German bomber planes fly overhead and start dropping bombs some of which land on the summer camp. Nazi tanks arrive in the area. The students flee from the soldiers, but the soldiers are still able to shoot quite a few of the students. A German officer picks on Carl. While playing basketball with some of the students, he keeps knocking Carl down. The female camp teacher intervenes by calling in the students for class. This makes the German officer mad. He waltzes into the make-shift school room and shoots the teacher in the head.
Ivanov International School, Autumn 1941.
The students are being evacuated from the school. Some of the students try to hide from the school staff, but most of them are rounded up. Lou tries to join the Soviet army, but the men kick him off the army truck.
Belarussian Summer Camp, Autumn 1941.
A young German soldier watching over the students starts to make fun of Carl. While being harassed, Carl is able to grab the soldiers automatic weapon and hold the German soldiers at bay wile the other students jump on the horses they are washing and ride away from the camp. The Germans start shelling the students on horseback killing a few. The Germans in large numbers hunt through the woods to kill Carl. They wound him in the leg. Carl tries to make a stand, but under pressure he cannot figure out how to work the weapon. Carl is executed by the soldiers.
The Germans catch the students and now prepare to hang them. An older Russian man taunts the German officer in charge. The officer shoots the older man in the head. He then picks a young girl out of the group and shoots her in the head. A German general arrives. He takes a look at the remaining students. He takes a special interest in Chu-Chu. He makes a careful survey of her face as if sizing her up to be a model.
Moscow, Spring 1942.
The former students of Ivanov International School are going through the garbage dumps to find food. A Russian army truck comes through the area and the students stop the truck in order to get some potatoes. The Russian driver promises them each a potato, but when he gets a chance he guns the engine and leaves the students far behind. Luo gives blood for the Russian war effort.
Belarussia Yakefulifv Monastery, winter 1942.
The students work as servants for the German officers. Chu-chu works for the German general who took so much interest in her features. The general talks to her and tells her to call him Dr. Von Dietricht instead of general. A big feast is held for the general and his staff. He forces a Russian woman to disrobe for the officers. Her body is covered with tattoos.
Luo has the job of delivering death notices to the parents of dead Russian troops.
Moscow, spring 1943.
Luo continues his job as a death notifier. He meets a young girl named Nadia whose mother is very depressed and virtually non-functioning. He cannot bring himself to break the bad news to her. He gives her a big slice of bread and tells Nadia that her father sent it as a gift to her. She is very happy about this. When Luo leaves Nadia follows him and they start to form a bond with each other.
Belarussia, Yakefulifv Monastery, winter 1943.
Chu-Chu is suddently strapped to a hospital bed. She is very afraid of what the Germans are going to do to her. Dr. Von Dietricht comes in and they knock Chu-Chu out with some chemical on a handkerchief. When she awakes Chu-Chu finds the beginnings of a large tattoo on her back. The mad doctor repeats the procedures a number of times. When it is finished, she will have a huge eagle above a large swastika in a circle.
Chu-Chu is very despondent and uncooperative with the Germans. She asks her handler to kill her, but he tells her: "I'll show you death." He shoots a couple of concentration camp workers in the courtyard below them. This upsets Chu-Chu and she agrees to cooperate. Her handler tells the general that she has finally given in.
Moscow, spring 1944.
Luo is now making up false, happy letters to replace the death notifications. He writes very exaggerated letters of heroic deeds accomplished by the soldiers. He writes and then reads such a letter to Nadia's mother, whose life is made a little brightener by hearing the letter read.
Belarussia, Yakefulifv Monastery, winter 1944.
The Germans under General Von Dietricht have to abandon Belarussia. They are packing up all their important documents and equipment. The general puts the last finishing touches on Chu-Chu's tattoo. The Germans start shooting the concentration camp people used as servants. The general tells Chu-Chu that the Third Reich is kaput, but that she is a work of art. "You are my creation." Chu-Chu is dropped off in a farm field far from German headquarters. The general shoots and kill himself with a pistol.
Moscow, early spring 1945.
Luo and Nadia have been harassing the German prisoners of war working in the area. He hits them with rocks hurled from his sling-shot. The Germans hatch a plan to catch the culprit. When Luo hits one of the Germans with a stone, a group rushes the building where he is hidden and try to catch him. Luo runs around but realizes that he cannot get away from them. So he knocks some gas barrels over to start a fire. He lures the Germans to the area and drops a match onto the liquid. There is a terrific explosion killing the Germans in the building as well as Luo. Nadia is very upset at Luo's death who she had come to refer as papa.
Belarussia, Soviet Military Refugee Camp.
A group of starving refugees is brought into the camp. Chu-Chu is among them. She gets some food along with the other refugees. All the young girls are made to take a shower, but Chu-Chu resists with an unnatural passion. The nurses begin to think she is crazy. They have to rip her clothes off. But when they do, they find that terrible Nazi tattoo on her back. They are shocked at what they see and Chu-Chu breaks away from them and asks if she can put her clothes back on. Chu-Chu is so ashamed of the Nazi tattoo that she grabs a small burning log and places it on her back in order o burn off the tattoo.
Chu-Chu becomes a hero in the Soviet Union for her resistance to Fascism. The Daughters of the Soviet Union present her with the Medal of Honor.
Kremlin, Moscow, summer 1945.
Nadia and Principal Watkin come to see Chu-Chu. Nadia thinks that she herself is Chinese, the daughter of Luo. The little girl sees Chu-Chu and begins to tell her story which is a close replication of the facts of Luo's life. Chu-Chu starts crying and embraces the young girl.
For five years more Chu-Chu had skin craft operations. They were, however, unsuccessful. The area of the tattoo was just too great to cover. She returned to China in 1950. In 1990 she died in Beijing at the age of 63. She never married.
Good movie. The movie keeps one's interest because one is constantly wondering what terrible thing are the Nazis going to do to the students of the Ivanov International School in Moscow. The Nazis do their usual sadistic, cruel acts to innocent people. (All this was deemed o.k. by the thought that these Slavic peoples were inferior to the Nordic Race of the Germans.) The German general/doctor was a weird fellow. The German forces were being destroyed and the doctor spends his time tattooing a Chinese woman with swastikas and other Nazi symbols. This must have been some kind of kinky paraphilia involving tattooing to stimulate him sexually. Ke-Yu Guo was very good in the role of Chu-Chu.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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