Film review No One Less


Author’s name

No one less is a 1999 film, which was adapted from the story, asun in the sky. The film has largely been described as a dramafilm despite that it is set in contemporary Chinese village and actedby real characters as opposed to actors. The film, which was directedby Zhang Yimou revolves around a young 16 year old substitute teachernamed Wei Minzhi. Wei is a substitute teacher in an extremely poorschool where there inadequate chalks and the students are fond ofrunning away to the nearby city, Zhangjiakou to look for casuallabor. However, Wei’s efforts to protect the learners from runningaway are only successful for a period. One of her students, Zhang,runs away to the nearest city, Zhangjiakou to look for employment.Wei embarks on fruitless efforts to look for him until she advertiseson a TV program did she manage to get Zhang back.

Rural education in China (poor status)

The film focuses mainly on the poor and dilapidated situation ofeducation in the villages of China. The poor status of ruraleducation in the village has forced Gao to work for six monthswithout pay and Wei is not sure whether she will be paid by the mayoras a substitute teacher. The infrastructure in the school is in direneed of repair. Wei has even been forced by circumstances to sleepwithin the school with some female students. Poverty in the ruralvillages of China has been alluded to force millions of children outof school.

Bureaucracy and struggle in China

The film has severally indicated how people in China struggle andverbally negotiate for with the authorities. Wei is mainly depictedas being in opposition with the mayor, the receptionist at the TVstation, as well as the announcer she meets at the train station. Onehas to use obstinacy and persistence in order to achieve a specificgoal. Although Wei has no money or power, the film has portrayed heras having struggled through sheer determination and speech skills toovercome her barriers.

Mass media (Television) as a center of power

Although Wei believes in the power of money and connections inChina, she acknowledges that being on the television can make someonedominant and influential in the society. She also believes that theonly people who can access the media, are the wealthy people. Massmedia is portrayed as having significant influence on the Chinesesociety in the 1990s. Her appearance in the television enabled thepoor school to get immense support from the public in terms ofdonations.


Money is a major and significant theme in the entire film. Everyactivity in the film surrounds the topic of money. Gao is not paid bythe mayor for her services for the last six months and the school sheteaches is in a poor condition due lack of money. Wei and thestudents struggle to look for money for their bus tickets. It is alsoevident from the film that the zeal with which Wei looks for Zhangmight be inspired by the 10 Yuan bonus she was promised.


No One Less is a film that depicts the wide range of issuesaffecting the average Chinese citizen. The education system and thestatus of the school infrastructure is a representation of the largereducation status in rural areas of China. The use of real charactersand natural village setting in China makes the film look more or lesslike a documentary. The struggle and the persistence of substituteteacher Wei is an indication of the patience and determination thatthe Chinese people possess.