Report on a Century of Revolution 2, the Mao Years
China: A Century of Revolutionis an insightful and definitive film depicting history of China, the once-secret nation. China’s tumultuous history is examined socially, politically and culturally using eyewitness accounts and films never seen before. The film is divided into three sections. Part one examines the Chinese revolution from 1911 through to 1949 highlighting the most violent era of contemporary China. Part two focuses on the Mao years, from 1949 to his demise in 1976. It encompasses Mao rise to power, his vision for a new China and the turbulences that included famine that eventually led to the deaths of over 100 million Chinese. This report will focus on the Mao years, summarizing major points of the video and creating a critical analysis of the most interesting issues.
The Mao years began with the ascension of Mao Zedong in power, under the flagship of China’s Communist Party (CPP). One of the main points derived from the beginning of the documentary is the change of the domestic policy. One narrator describes the policy as creating equality among all the people. Mao and other communists’ leaders asserted that people would become masters of the country. Through such declarations, land from the government and rich land owners was given to the poor. Thousands of land owners were beaten, humiliated and sometimes even killed by peasants under the advisement of the Communist party officials. One story in the film by Li Maoxui where he describes his experience of being attacked by peasants and liberating himself by highlighting his dissociation with his wealthy family.
The Mao years also highlight the collectivization of China through the Great Leap Forward that was orchestrated by Mao and the Communist party. Rapid collectivization and unwarranted industrialization aimed at changing to a Socialist society from the much maligned agrarian society. The great leap forward eventually led to the one of the greatest catastrophes in world history, the great Chinese famine. The section also highlights the PRC and USA relations that were lukewarm but eventually deteriorated due to the Korean War and China’s position as a vassal state of the USSR. The PRC and USSR relations blossomed during this period. Mao Zedong accepted economic aid from Josef Stalin with several conditions attached. The second section of the film also touches on the five-year plan developed by Mao for the development of China.
In addition, the film depicts the atrocities committed by the Communist party under Mao Zedong through the Great Chinese Famine, mass political experiments and violent campaigns. Interviews with participants and victims of such atrocities illustrate the problems of the time. The Mao years also highlight the impact of the Korean War on the people of China. Violence marred the radical reforms in China. The Communist party led by Mao persecuted and executed opposition supporters eventually leading to the deaths of an excess of three million individuals.
Some surprising aspects of China Revolution: The Mao Years is the establishment of women rights in China. Chinese women were granted freedom of marriage while previously marriages were arranged. In addition, the film, similarly to other films of Communist China depicts the Socialist movement as evil and atrocious without capturing the view of the Maoists. It is also important to note that the film uses eyewitnesses that were negatively affected by the revolution and the famine. Horrific recollections of the violence that do not paint the clear picture are used. Under Mao Zedong, China experienced a period of stability, albeit a short one. Child mortality reduced drastically under Mao’s leadership. The film is based on bourgeoisie narrative that serves to illustrate the struggle between Lin Biao and Mao towards the end of the film.
China: A century of Revolution is one of the best films documenting Cultural Revolution. Although the film undergoes problems that are usually associated with bourgeois films, it correctly depicts most of the dynamics of the Chinese revolution.