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  • China - A Century of Revolution
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China - A Century of Revolution

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DVD 3-Disc Version

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Product Details

  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Zeitgeist
  • DVD Release Date: February 5, 2002
  • Run Time: 360 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RRID
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,185 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Definitive, insightful and unforgettable, China: A Century of Revolution is an astonishingly candid view of a once-secret nation. This powerful program takes a remarkable first-hand look at China's tumultuous history, examining its social, political and cultural upheaval through eyewitness accounts, rare archival film footage and insightful commentary.
Part One: China in Revolution
China In Revolution begins in 1911 with the fall of the last emperor and continues through 1949, highlighting four decades of civil war, foreign invasion and the ascension of rival leaders Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek. Rarely seen photos and film footage - among the earliest ever recorded in China - reveal fascinating details of a long-censored history. Hear the facts and meet the people who experienced modern China's most violent era.
Part Two: The Mao Years
From the beginning of his rule in 1949 to his death in 1976, Mao Zedong and his colleagues attempted to forge a "new China" from a country mired in poverty and devastated by decades of war. Yet, the Mao years would bring the new People's Republic of China little stability. Rare interviews with Communist Party members and ordinary citizens involved with history's largest political experiment, reveal the turbulence, famine, violent campaigns and purges which destroyed the lives of more than one hundred million people.
Part Three: Born Under The Flag
Born Under The Red Flag begins with Mao's death in 1976, continues with the new leadership of Deng Xiaoping, and concludes with the struggle of China's paradoxical goals of economic prosperity and absolute Communist Party control. In the short span of 15 years, China transformed itself into a never-before-seen hybrid of communism and capitalism. And although it has become the third largest economy in the world, the price has been high. Rare interviews and film footage highlight the Democracy Wall Movement, the establishment of Special Economic Zones and the dramatic student protests in Tiananmen Square.

Customer Reviews

China: A Century of Revolution definitely fit the bill!
C. Jaskiewicz
It's someone perfectly sane and normal who simply got swept up in the times she was living in.
Overall, and AMAZING documentary with an incredible scope.
Bobby Kwan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 115 people found the following review helpful By GLBT VINE VOICE on June 5, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This series consists of six one-hour episodes, and takes you through the beginning of the 20th century up until the present. The story that it tells is so incredibly bizarre and tragic and thought-provoking that at times it was difficult to believe it was all true. The 2nd DVD in particular, which focuses on the reign of Mao, really made me realize how different the Chinese culture is from my own (USA) and what a traumatic history they've had in the past 100 years.
One of the things I really appreciated about this series was how non-judgmental it was. At no point did I feel that the editor or producers had a political agenda. The point was not to demonize the Communists and also not to glorify them. Instead, it simply let you watch the events unfold and let you listen to the people who lived it as they attempt to explain to you (and to themselves) how all of these unbelievable things happened and how it felt to be in the middle of it all.
You could really understand why, after living through Chiang Kai-shek's corrupt Nationalist rule, the people were so eager to follow Mao and to embrace his idealistic vision of a Communist State built of equality and justice. And, too, you could see how the whole thing slowly went off-kilter. As Mao became more and more removed from the day-to-day reality of the peasants, his ideas became increasingly demented. In a sense, he reminded me of Marlon Brando's character in "Apocalypse Now," except that Mao was real and was in the position of leadership of almost one billion people.
By the time the documentary got to the Cultural Revolution (the fourth of the six episodes), it's like you're watching some insane Monty Python-esque satire about revolutions within revolutions.
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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By David Crumm on February 27, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The basic Amazon description of this DVD is confusing -- and that's unfortunate because this is a terrific selection of three of Susan Williams' four PBS documentaries on China.

Contained in this set are "China in Revolution," shown on PBS in 1989; "The Mao Years," shown in 1994 -- and "Born Under the Red Flag," aired in 1997. However, if you're a PBS-and-China watcher, you should know that Williams' more recent documentary, "China in the Red," is not in this set. Personally, as a longtime journalist myself, I don't think this set suffers from its abrupt end with the decline of Deng Xiaoping. Williams' 2003 film, "China in the Red," examined the lives of a handful of Chinese workers -- but China is evolving so rapidly that I would think Susan Williams herself would want to make a completely different "Part 4" to her series in 2008 than she did six years ago when she was assembling "China in the Red."

Nevertheless -- this set is not, as the cover claims, "Definitive," about China. After six hours, the history comes to a screeching halt with Deng's decline. Plus, China watchers are likely to quibble over a whole series of points in the course of the six hours. For instance, the U.S. decision to establish full diplomatic ties with Beijing in the late 1970s is presented with a former U.S. ambassador saying, "All the Chinese were happy." Well, that certainly wasn't the case with the ethnic Chinese living in Taiwan. They were stunned and disgusted at that news. Perhaps Williams could have at least touched on that point.

Also -- if you watch this documentary at the same time you view "Manufactured Landscapes," a much more contemporary visual meditation on industrial development in China, your head will snap around at Williams' footage of workers in newer factories.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By C. Jaskiewicz on August 22, 2007
Format: DVD
I bought this set for my husband, who has been doing a lot of business in China recently. He wanted to understand the background of the people he is getting to know; what motivates them and why; how their history affects their outlook and attitudes. China: A Century of Revolution definitely fit the bill! It's fascinating - lots of descriptions of events by people who were there when they happened help the viewer understand why China's relatively recent history has unfolded the way it has. You get the opportunity to hear many sides of each story: both leaders and common soldiers on both Communist and Nationalist sides; common people living in villages whose daily lives were impacted by change, etc. We would recommend this DVD set as a good overview for Americans looking for a basic understanding of twentieth-century Chinese history.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Matt on September 10, 2003
Format: DVD
This is a wonderfully unbiased documentary on the 20th century history of China. It begins with the fall of an Empire and rise of Sun Yat Sen in 1911, and moves onto Chiang Kai Shek and Chairman Mao who are portrayed as leaders who participated in some of the most significant events that define the Cultural Revolution.
I remember Secondary School curriculae that portrays the Nationalist Chiang as the 'good-guy', and Chairman Mao as the 'bad-guy' of chinese 20th century history. However, this documentary remains ambivalent on both of these matters, presenting the facts without bias by the producers. They expertly weave a history with evenhandedness making it impartial and objective to the sometimes very subjective matter that is The Cultural Revolution. The entire six hour documentary spans approximately 70 years, from 1911 (Sun Yat Sen) through to the rule and capitalistic tendencies of Deng Xiao Peng.
While the objectivity of the documentary is laudable, the treatment of the subject matter is nothing short of exceptional. The intention of the documentary is to serve as an overview within a six hour time-frame. It is NOT intended as an in-depth political study of the times! Subsequently, the documentary does not getted bogged-down in too much detail, but simultaneously manages to adequately portray the events that defined 20th century China.
On the whole this documentary is highly watchable, offering historical footage and interviews with those who participated in the Cultural Revolution in one form or another. Any curriculum study of 20th century China would be greatly enhanced by including this documentary. The documentary also serves as a great introduction to China for anyone interested in the country and how it has arrived at being the country it is today.
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Topic From this Discussion
Cheaper Version Available
This version is now the cheaper one. It appears that the 2002 release does not have Chinese subtitles while the 2007 release does include them according to the item listings.
Oct 14, 2014 by DCGUY |  See all 2 posts
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