Little Red Flowers

Director:  Zhang Yuan
Year: 2006
Rating: 7.5
Country: China

This is a wonderfully sly satire that adroitly sticks a sharp pin into the fat side of Communist thought in China circa the late 1980’s. And most peculiarly, it takes place in kindergarten. Four year old Quiang isn’t very happy when he is dropped off by his busy father in a co-ed boarding kindergarten. He quickly learns that good behavior earns the children the cherished “little red flowers” and that for bad deeds they are taken away. The teachers are kindly but very intent on performing what they view as their duty – creating an environment of conformity in which the children are all expected to put on their clothes the same way, go to the bathroom the same way, eat the same way and behave the same way. Those that fail lose a little red flower and are lectured to in front of the other children. Initially, Quiang does his best to conform but when he can’t fit in he turns into a rowdy mischievous troublemaker bullying the other kids and becoming a rumormonger. For this unsocial behavior he is first isolated and then goes through re-education. Very charming and adorably cute with bunches of little urchins running about, the film definitely has a point to make but in a very subtle humorous manner. I couldn’t help but wonder while watching though whether this film could even have a theatrical run in the United States because of the many scenes of child nudity – things have gotten to such a point here that I am sure someone would raise a major fuss.