Youth, takes a look at the lives of a group who are members of a Military Cultural Troupe in 1970’s China. Over the course of the movie friends find love, but the death of Chairman Mao throws the country into chaos. The innocence of youth is then stripped away on the battlefield, and life for these young people will never be the same again.
The director, Xiagang Feng, really captures the period well. The lives of these young men and women is shown to be an enjoyable one. Communism and politics is always there, but never becomes the focal point of the movie…well at least not for the first half.
It’s uplifting to see these young people enjoy their time together, having fun and finding love, all while the threat of civil unrest looms. To then see their lives thrown into complete disarray, and for the reality of their situation dawn on them, is heartbreaking. Heartbreaking because I felt they were essentially forced into fighting. They act or they die. This was a regime where independent thought was not welcomed at all. So to watch friends torn apart, it is sad to see.
All the time you can see each of those young men and women yearn for the past to be the present. For the ‘good old days’ to be here again. It’s never a case of nostalgia taking over, it’s just the desire for life to be simple again. I think we can all identify with that, especially with society as it is today. You want to go back to when things were easier to understand, to when life never felt so complicated. ‘Youth’ captures that feeling in a very bittersweet way. The horrors of war are never underplayed either, which makes it all the more painful to know that those men and women will never return to the way it was.