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Excellent Survey - Only Covers Half of China's "Century of Humiliation"
on January 25, 2012
Overall, this is a good documentary for individuals without much background on China's modern history. The most insightful portion of the video is the first half which juxtaposes the development of intellectual thought in both China and the West. A clear understanding of these points of origin is imperative for anyone interested in China, as is a firm grasp of how our two civilizations have developed throughout history.
While the documentary provides a good survey of the period, it did not exhaustively explore the full "Century of Humiliation" (i.e. 1839 - 1943; the first Opium War through the Cairo Conference--arguably you could extend this to the founding of the PRC in 1949). In fact, a bit more than half of the movie is spent on the aforementioned developments of Eastern and Western intellectualism, and the other 35 minutes or so on China's history from 1840 to the end of the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895).
It does not cover the second half of this "century of humiliation," which included further encroachment by the imperial powers; most notably Japan's 21 demands, WWI and the setbacks encountered by secret treaties signed at the Paris Peace Conference, annexation and full scale invasion of Manchuria by Japan, and the atrocities carried out by the Japanese from 1937 - 1943. The self-inflicted wounds brought about by the civil war between the Nationalist and Communists during this period is also worthy of mention.
There is a lot more to this period than this documentary covers. While it's unfair to expect its directors to adequately address all of these issues, providing each event with the attention it deserves, the documentary could use a less misleading title. While quite a mouthful, something along the lines of "The Intellectual Points of Origin of Chinese and Western Thought, and China's Initial Encounters with the West in the Late 19th Century" may be more appropriate.