Wednesday, February 25, 2009

China 1972

Last night, I watched the first part of these series of films taken in China in 1972 by an Italian film maker. The DVD blurb says the film was denounced by the Chinese government at the time because it didn't show the achievements of the regime.

I watched the film to see what it was like so many years ago in China. The film was both fascinating and dull for me. I fast forwarded through some parts. But then the film had some images that left an impression in my memory:

  • There was a woman hobbled by the old custom of foot-binding.
  • A shy young woman chews on a piece of paper.
  • A man does Tai Chi while riding a bicycle.
  • A open-backed truck carrying forty Red Guards (people in Mao Suits).
  • A work gang marching to a field.

The film left me with a "been there, done that" feeling as well. The camera man took film of many of the same things I have taken in my four years in China:

  • A area full of an endless number of bicycles.
  • A huge mass of people on the move.
  • The narrow pathways of a city neighborhood.
  • The open air markets full of live fish.
  • A museum diorama showing China's past

The first part of the film was taken in Beijing. I recalled my honeymoon. But the Beijing I saw, had more cars and less Mao Suits.

  • The film showed People in Mao Suits at the Great Wall.
  • Tourists visiting the palace of heaven where you can see Jenny and Me on this web page's side panel.
  • The Forbidden Palace.
  • In Tienanmen Square, you could see giant portraits of Lenin, Engels, and Stalin.

The film makers were never with supervision so some of what they shot was obviously staged. So, the collective scenes were depressing to watch. While they are not so prevalent today, a hint of what they were like can still be seen today.

So, what struck me about this film was how much I have become familiar with about China.

The second part of the film sees the film makers to Henan and the countryside. Who knows when I will be able to watch that part.

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