A real delight, attractive on many levels. The story concerns two women who start out working for a travelling musical theatre company. As they become more famous, their friendship weakens and they take radically different paths; one becomes increasingly politically committed, the other is attracted to the trappings of urban success. Made before the Cultural Revolution by a man, the film manages to embrace feminist issues, political ideologies, thriller and musical motifs, and a surprisingly Hollywood-style sense of 'weepie' melodrama. The performances are terrific, but what really distinguishes this amazing hybrid (in Western terms, that is) is the director's fluid and elegant style. Colour, composition, pace, and above all, camera movement, create an exhilarating spectacle that is never thematically shallow. Imagine Sirk's colours and emotional sense, Scorsese or Minnelli's craning camera shots, allied to a politically perceptive treatment, and you're half way to imagining this film.