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China: A Century of Revolution (Three Disc Set)
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DISC ONE Part One: China in Revolution 1911-1949 (1989)
DISC TWO Part Two: The Mao Years 1949-1976 (1994)
DISC THREE Part Three: Born Under the Red Flag 1976-1997 (1997)
"The film provides exactly the sort of long-range socio-political context that Western news organizations seldom bring to breaking events. Moreover, it does so with a visual integrity that is simply stunning." --The Boston Globe
"A superb chronicling of China's history.... Fascinating and provocative." --Journal of Asian Studies
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This documentary provides a variety of perspectives on important issues in a way that it is both intellectually enriching and massively entertaining. Read morePublished 1 month ago by GRC
I bought it as a gift for my friend. the disc have excellent made, great description, great video, great interview with people, just greatPublished 9 months ago by Joyce Rong
Is there any Chinese giving comments on this DVD set? Yes, and I am the one.
I bought this DVD from Sun Yat Sen Museum in Taiwan 2 mths ago. Read more
This is a must for anyone interested in China. Absolutely excellent The archival footage makes the tumultuous century come alive.Published on October 30, 2013 by Ian
Great transaction. Quick and honest. Merchandise in better condition than I expected. Look forward to sharing this with students of Chinese history.Published on September 18, 2013 by J. Tucker
The theme of the discs handles the subject in an okay way.It relies and concentrates mainly on the leaders thoughts and aspirations. Read morePublished on September 9, 2013 by Ivan Horbun
TERRIFIC VIEW OF CHINA IN THE 21ST CENTURY!
Well worth watching as a six-hour intro to China .. .. Read more
|Topic||From this Discussion|
I have this set (2007 release) and can say that there are English subtitles when the audio is in Chinese (such as during an interview), but the main menu only allows the display of Chinese subtitles during the entire program presentation (which occurs when English is being spoken). So if you are... Read More
Jun 9, 2014 by DCGUY | See all 2 posts
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