Dragons and Tigers
China, 2009, 157 mins
DIR: Xu Tong
When one first sits down to watch Fortune Teller, one would want to leave the theatre soon afterwards due to the sharp sounds of angry Mandarin spoken by characters and the way the film was made. In fact, the cinematography and the editing of the film appear to be poorly executed but that might have been intentional. Director Xu Tong’s documentary is about the life of Li Baicheng, a physically-challenged fortune teller and the people associated with him, who include prostitutes, homeless people and his wife’s family.
Li Baicheng is very poor but he tries to see the positive things in his life. When he explains why he chose to marry his wife who is deaf, mute, and mentally and physically challenged, one begins to understand just who this man is. The film is divided into different chapters and each chapter delves further into the life of Li Baicheng. Each scene shows just how wise this poor fortune teller is even though he is a very simple man who probably did not receive much education.
Of course, he is not a man without flaws and these are shown as the director lets the audience drawn their own conclusions through certain things that Li Baicheng does as well through his own confessions. However, by living life based on Buddhist principles, he teaches the audience about compassion, charity, meekness and contentment as his words and actions actually eliminate and lift the film from its many shortcomings. The film is not perfect much like the main character himself but that is inconsequential as a lesson in humanity makes this film worth one’s while.