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  • Chung Kuo China - (Mr Bongo Films) (1972) [DVD]
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Chung Kuo China - (Mr Bongo Films) (1972) [DVD]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michelangelo Antonioni (narration)
  • Directors: Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Mr Bongo
  • DVD Release Date: March 5, 2012
  • Run Time: 208 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,384 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The course charted by Michelangelo Antonioni in Chung Kuo China presents unforgettable glimpses of one of the world's richest cultures. Although he visits familiar sights such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, the film's focus is fixed towards the people themselves. Across China, from major cities like Beijing and Shanghai to the Henan province, people struggle amidst poverty and hardship to sustain the collective revolutionary spirit that liberated them. Chung Kuo is an indelible time capsule of the aftermath of Mao's Cultural Revolution, the defining event of Modern China. Despite receiving the direct support of the Chinese Communist Party during production, Chung Kuo provoked a strong backlash on its initial release, earning rebuke from Mao Zedong himself. While well received in the West, the film did not find its intended audience until its 2004 screening at the Beijing Cinema Institute. One of Antonioni's most innovative works, formerly languishing as a prized object in cinema archives, Chung Kuo China's vision achieves greater resonance in the 21st Century than the time of its release.


Among Antonioni's finest documentary achievements --A History of Narative Film

A work that manifested, from the start, an attitude of warm and cordial participation in the great event of the Chinese people --Umberto Eco

Inspirational... Antonioni's images simply mean more than any images the Chinese release of themselves --Susan Sontag

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Antonioni has a documentary vision underlying his classic films,this acts like a corrective to any kind of indulgence.Invited to China by MaoZe Dung for 8 weeks to document the effects of the Cultural Revolution on a presumption of shared values under constant chaperone,so as not to stray from the prearranged puppet-shows, acrobats, propaganda songs and indoctrinated story,there are moments he steals from his minders,out of the sides of their vision,sights of the people of China going about their daily routine out of the various cities and provinces. He intended solely to "present a large collection of faces,gestures,customs."This is a time capsule of an unknown China in the early 70s released into the West by a great master of film.Chung Kuo Cina was condemned by the Chinese as anti-Chinese imperialistic slander for not showing off the great achievements of the Cultural Revolution leading to a 32 year ban.This 208 minute version consists of 3 parts.The first part,taken around Beijing,includes a cotton factory, older sections of the city,and a clinic where a caesarean operation is performed,using acupuncture.The Great Wall of China is spectacular,although there are broken sections.

In documenting what he refers to as "mundane daily activity", Antonioni films the people as he finds them, with much attention paid to lingering shots of individual faces, ignoring one town governor's hasty attempts to force elderly residents out of the camera's sightlines,frantically insisting that everything be captured "properly".For all the sequences of immaculately behaved children reciting songs about the wonders of collectivism, it was a single shot of them running into the playground with which the censors took umbrage, at odds with the studious picture of youth they wished to present.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Anthony on November 11, 2013
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What the heck was going on with Mao Zedong disavowing this wonderful documentary about the Chinese people in the 1970s. Mao should have been thrilled with what Antonioni's roving eye captured on film - the people of the cities, the regions and the countryside. The footage of inside the Forbidden City are enchanting and breathtaking. The camera must have been a novelty because so often the people are curious about the camera following them around. While subtitles are necessary, there is precious little narration and talking heads, the camera takes it all in. A real time capsule. I felt like I was transported into China's past.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Brzostek VINE VOICE on April 15, 2012
Michelangelo Antonioni's 1972 documentary Chung Kuo China brings us on an exotic adventure deep into the country everyone knows of, but truly little about it. Antonioni acknowledges he doesn't have some profound insight into China that he will share with us, but as we go along with him, we feel like we are on a personal tour in this ancient land. We see famous landmarks like the Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square, getting an appreciation to their significance. We get a tour of cities like Beijing and Shanghai, learning about their past and present. But regardless of where we go on our travels with Antonioni throughout China, we see countless people going about their regular life.

It is actually pretty amazing that so much of this film just shows the regular events one sees in from the street and the many expressions of the people who happen to be there at the time. So this documentary manages to show the mundane in an interesting way. The narration helps us understand what is occurring and the historical importance of what we are viewing. I have to add that there were actually escorts accompanying Antonioni and his crew when they made this movie. The escorts always remain off camera, but told them where they can and cannot film (and some of what they were told not to film they did anyway). If anything, we also get a good taste of communism and the culture that goes with it. China still embraces its past and we get to see a few things that might only occur there and no where else on earth (like acupuncture using huge needles for pain control during birth or groups of people moving their body like they are practicing martial arts out in the public).

I have to admit I like Antonioni's style, so it isn't a surprise for me that I found this film to be so enjoyable.
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