Titled My Days in France, a film aiming at presenting the highly-esteemed Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping as a "youth idol" will hit theatres in mid-August to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth on August 22, 1904.
The film focuses on stories concerning Deng in the last four years of his six years spent in Paris as a student and part-time worker.
In 1920, 16-year-old Deng Xiaoping, named Deng Xixian at that time, left for France, to learn something really useful to save his mother country, which was suffering from both aggression from outside and warlordism within at that time.
In the following years, he got to know Nie Rongzhen, the late marshal of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, and Zhou Enlai, the first premier of the People's Republic of China.
Influenced by the two, he joined the Chinese Communist Party and took part in a series of revolutionary activities, such as editing magazines and leading Chinese people in Europe in protests against the warlords at home.
In early 1926 he moved to Russia to continue his studies and career.
The film features a romantic atmosphere, hardly the traditional documentary-like style of Chinese films about political leaders.
The director, Zhai Junjie, who now works in Bayi Film Studio, which specializes in films about military affairs, talks about his personal dream of presenting a different Deng Xiaoping to theatre audiences.
"Young people have their own idols," he said. "And my film also tells a story of an idol. After I read about Deng's experiences in France, I was moved, excited, and then stirred. He should be a 'youth idol'."
The film, according to Zhai, will be anything but a historical textbook. The portrayal of character will take presidency over the presentation of historical background, especially with the protagonist.
Also the hero will not be a stereotyped saint-like leader, but an ordinary young man who pursues his dream of serving his motherland with full patriotic fervour.
The film stars Zhou Lang, an actor with the People's Art Theatre of Southwest China's Sichuan Province.
(China Daily July 27, 2004)