More than propaganda went into making film

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Global Times, June 28, 2011
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[By Liu Rui/Global Times]

Every big film benefits from the buzz generated by a little controversy, but Beginning of the Great Revival has certainly created more than its share at home and abroad in its very brief life. It has been panned by many netizens as blatant propaganda, especially by young people for whom Chairman Mao Zedong is as ancient history as say Sun Yat-sen, first president of the Republic of China and contemporary of the great helmsman.

As a not-so-young person, however, I feel that the film serves a number of legitimate purposes beyond mere propaganda.

The controversies are quite juicy. Many press reports say that Chairman Mao's grandson, Major General Mao Xinyu threw his weight around to remove footage of the actress Tang Wei who was made more famous, or perhaps, infamous, by her nude scene in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution from playing Chairman Mao's girlfriend. I find this rumor plausible.

General Motors is in hot water back home because its Cadillac brand is a sponsor of the movie. Some feel that a company partly owned by the US government shouldn't be financially supporting a film about communists. Gimme a break.

Some accuse the government of packing theaters. Let's face it, even if the government does buy huge blocks of tickets and distributes them to pad the audience, so what? This is done in the West by corporations as well. And unlike earlier times when people had to go to political meetings or else, people just don't have to go to the film if they don't want to.

The central government is to be congratulated and not condemned for boosting people's nationalistic feelings through a film vehicle like this. It's just one of their many tools for winning the hearts and minds of its people.

Others include the excellent TV commercials they do from time to time, as well as the recent moves to open up the workings of the Party such as the recent briefing given to diplomats by the International Department, Central Committee of CPC, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' use of microblogging to report on its many responsibilities.

Most importantly I think the film is thought-provoking. Seeing it should encourage people to reflect on the idealism with which the Party was founded as it fought the one-party rule of the Nationalists. It should also cause audiences to reflect on the profound ups and downs of modern Chinese history and to assess in their own minds to what degree the Party has been successful in reaching those early goals.

The author is former director and vice president at ABC Television.

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