Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mr. Mao's Amazing Movie

From this blog it may seem that all I do is play games, watch movies and read books, but actually there's a bunch of stuff I do in between all that, like school, and work and other stuff. The reason I post so many reviews of things is because I have watched or read a lot of stuff and haven't had the chance to blog about them yet, so I have this whole back-log of things I've seen or read that I really wanna blog about but just haven't gotten around to yet. Why am I telling you this? I don't know actually, but I feel its important that people know I actually have a life hehe. Anyway, recently I've been learning a lot about modern China in my class and I had a mid-term exam that came up a week or two ago so to help study I watched the Chinese film "The Founding of a Republic".

Before you say anything, yes it's a movie about Chairman Mao, the founder of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and yes, it could easily be viewed as propaganda. However, there are quite a few reasons to watch this film, especially if you're in to East Asian history and film. The interesting thing about this movie is that, although it is essentially propaganda it takes a seemingly objective approach to the portrayal of a number of the characters, especially Cheng Kai-Shek, the leader of the Kuo Min Tang (KMT - the guys who were opposed to Mao's communist party). Sure Mao is portrayed as a kind and charismatic leader who is a friend to all the children and the everyman but I half expected them to portray Cheng as an evil capitalist, wringing his hands and cackling while coming up with more insidious plots to exploit workers. Surprisingly they portrayed him as a guy with good intentions that just couldn't "get it together" which in a way is what actually happened in history (the KMT, after being in power for a time, lost to the communists and took refuge in Taiwan, which has a lot to do with why Taiwan is always trying to claim independence - I'll talk about this in a later post methinks). What I'm saying is that for a propaganda film, its actually quite factual and by watching it you can actually learn a thing or two about how PRC came to be.

The alternate poster showing all the famous actors the make appearances in the film.
The other cool thing about this film is that it has cameos from nearly EVERY big name in Chinese and Hong Kong film. If you watch this film and are familiar with at least some Chinese actors you'll easily be able to recognize such people as Andy Lau, Leon Lai, Zhang Zi Yi, Zhao Wei, Donnie Yen, Jet Li and even Jackie Chan! It's just a lot of fun to see them all in the same movie! The film itself is essentially a collection of scenes and that depict events that were integral to the founding of the PRC and is not really a fluid narrative. It's sort off like watching a news real. Honestly though, as far as propaganda films go, The Founding of a Republic neglects to take the possibly vomit inducing "Mao is a friend to all the animals" approach and chooses to tell a much more factual account of the events surrounding the founding of the PRC. You could do much worse, trust me. Not a bad bit of film-making and definitely worth a look if your at all interested in modern China and its history. Suffice it to say, it actually did help me on the exam!      

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