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Documentary Video Analysis - Movie Review Example

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Documentary Video Analysis. The documentary film entitled “A Century of Revolution: China in Revolution, 1911-1949” was made in 1989 as the first in a three part series on the birth of modern China. It was made by a collaboration between two American companies, Ambrica Productions based in New York and WGBH based in Boston, as well as the British television company Channel $4…
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Download file to see previous pages The time was one of increased curiosity about China in the wider world, and this documentary was no doubt conceived as a way of informing western audiences about the background to the unfolding protests in China. The main message of the film appears to be a to give a linear narrative starting with the end of the old feudal system and the beginning of a new struggle for control in China in the year 1911. The neck and neck battle between Nationalists and Communists is shown, with some quite graphic old black and white moving pictures of what life, and in some cases death, was like for many people. Very early on there is an indication of the ultimate goal of the documentary, which seems to be to explain to the viewer how China “became the largest communist state on earth.” The dramatic way this is sad, and the deep, male American narrative voice, make this sound like something dramatic, and at the same time somewhat frightening. In fact this pro-American tone is carried on throughout the whole documentary and constitutes something of a bias. All of the English language voices which are used to translate the passages in Chinese are very American, and it is an interesting choice on the part of the director to use this kind of speaker and not seek out speakers with more international or Asian sounding voices. The film is very effective at conveying the struggle between Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse Dong for the heart of the Chinese people. The trouble for the Western viewer is, however, that there does not seem to be much difference between the nationalist and the communist camps. Both go about their business with quite extreme brutality, making this quite a harrowing film to watch in places. Executions, piles of corpses in the streets, and tales of vicious torture bring home the atrocities carried out by both sides, and the human cost to the ordinary people who made up both the armies and the victims of pillaging across a landscape that is already dreadfully poor. The film would have benefited from pause from visual narrative, in order to explain some of the ideological differences between the two. Mao is shown writing out some of his greatest works, for example, but there is no indication what it was he was writing about. The analysis of events was not at all sophisticated, and in fact some of the graphics were beyond basic. For a production in the late 1980s, it shows remarkably little sophistication in the maps and visual effects that it uses. Arrows and flags denote troop movements and foreign country involvement, but it is all done on a scale that makes china look like a tiny marginal state. There is no impression of the vastness of the territory, or the great differences in terrain and culture that existed across this whole nation. The best features of the film were a) its use of authentic old silent films, and b) its interviews with eye-witnesses who knew some of the leading figures in China in this period. The son of Chiang Kai-shek is interviewed, for example, presenting a disconcertingly western appearance in his shirt and tie, along with many soldiers and a few women who were involved in the Long March or in some of the Communist or Nationalist youth movements. Several of these interviewees give remarkable testimony to the dangers that they themselves faced, and several pronounce ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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