If a movie is on screening publicly in the cinema in China, then you can‘t expect a deeply reflection of reality and history.
When I walked out from the office box, thinking about this movie Youth (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6654316/), I can feel the hardness the director FengXiaoGang try to balance between the art and how further he can go or which way he can go under current circumstance, otherwise, he would go the same way with director Zhang about To Live (http://www.beijinghangout.com/the-truth/) which can not be on screening in China.
Art troupe in military is sensitive topic in the past days or even nowadays, several actress name in military has became a censored key word in search engine(http://www.beijinghangout.com/searching-engine/) within China. So this is not the line I want to cross either, today I just want to talk about the director of movie youth, FengXiaoGang.
I would kind of say that Director. Feng is a miracle or legend for his career, given he spent most his professional live(before 35) on painting art for the stage background, which is not an important role in the industry, I think the movie Youth might be inspired by what he saw and experienced at that time he was in the military art troupe.
The background of the movie Youth is based on the Culture revolution （1966-1976）(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution )which caused great political turmoil and humanity disaster, Director Feng, intelligently focus on the individuals in a typical art troupe in the military to project the reality at that time, but if you have no idea about the historical background, you would probably never have the sympathy, rather than a sad story for bunch of beautiful dancers. And keep the story in a very obscure way is the compromising way for screening license.
Actually, Director. Feng is famous for his comedy movie director, but when he got his fame and fortune, he began to pursue a transformation for the movie he direct, even though some of his new movie is not very successful in commercial, I do think he is kind of the backbone of his own director generation, check out some great movie he directed in recent year:
The Assembly(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0881200/), Chinese civil war background during 1945-1949, I personally like this movie much more than the Youth.
Back to 1942 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2113822/), World War II, asian battle field background in 1942.
Director, like FengXiaoGang, ZhangYiMou, etc made a successful director career in the movie industry along with the economic reform since 1978 in China, and they experienced every important stage of Chinese movie market, so in their movie, you can always find symbolic aged memory at that special time, which made their movie have the natural attraction to the audience more than 35 years old. Unfortunately, younger people are no longer their targeting market even though they are trying to.
Figure: Director FengXiaoGang’s famous comedy The Dream Factory, as a cameo character(right), he is such a young man at that time.
At last please check out the trailer of the movie Youth, it is really beautiful.