Friday, August 27, 2010

China: A Century of Revolution

Ambrica Films, 6 hours in three parts, 1989, 94, 97 

This American made and funded film gives a fascinating and quite objective account of the last hundred years of events in China, starting from the fall of the last Emperor to the recent burgeoning to world economic and military power status.

Part 1, China in Revolution (1911-49), starts from the 1911 abdication of the emperor and concludes with the communist victory in 1949, and Chiang Kai-shek's ouster into Taiwan. We see the bitter life and death triangular engagement between the Nationalists, the epic emergence of Chinese communism under the charismatic Mao, and the depredations by rapacious Japanese forces. The combination of civil war and foreign invasion scourges the countryside and cities. The international community maintains a safe distance, even as the spectre of WW2 overcasts the sky.

Part2, The Mao Years (1949-76) takes us through the turbulent birth throes of the historic experiment, with it's terrible toll. An attempt is made to recast the entire structure of human society into an unnatural mould, with even the institution of the family under threat.

Part 3, Born Under the Red Flag (1976-97), begins with the demise of Mao, Deng's assumption of power, going onto the student unrest and the experiment wherein ideology is not allowed to hinder economic progress. The important galvanizing and courageous role played by the youth and student community in particular is given prominence.

This is a splendid documentary which encapsulates a vast expanse of the past so that China does not seem a terra incognito.

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