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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

excellent, sensitive coverage of the effect of the cultural revolution on musicians in China

Author: David Martin-Dawson, Ph.D. (ddaw@aol.com) from Seattle, WA USA
21 October 2000

This is one of the most moving films I have ever seen. The 'language of music' gets a lot of mileage in general, but here you see it as the common voice of people who have no other mutual language. It is a film of great sensitivity and honesty, showing the depths of tragedy people experienced under the Cultural Revolution in China, as well as an engaging whirlwind tour into the rich world of traditional and modern (well, 1980s) China. Stern's master classes with young Chinese students are delightful - humorous, enlightening and beautifully human. Well worth seeing or owning.

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Good Look at Music's Wide Range

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
24 May 2012

From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China (1981)

*** (out of 4)

Oscar-winning documentary follows Isaac Stern's tour of China where he was invited by the government to spend three weeks. The tour included him performing some concerts but the main goal was to introduce children to the world of music, which was something they couldn't learn due to the Cultural Revolution that ran for over a decade. While I haven't seen every nominated film from 1981, I'm not certainly I'd heap too much praise on this film or find it Oscar-worthy but I think it's a pretty interesting look at a place where something as simple as music was taken away from them. This documentary does cover quite a bit of ground as we start off just seeing Stern travel to some rehearsals where he comments on the music playing and we also see the master at work himself. Fans of Stern will certainly enjoy hearing him play but they also get a chance to hear him speak about his craft as he teaches those around him. The film never gets overly political but it does deal with some darker issues of how the people were abused and just never given the freedom to do things that other places take for granted. There's a scene towards the hour mark where a man recounts his time of abuse that is really heartbreaking. I think what the film proves the most is how there's really no language to music and how so many people can be effected by it even if they're from different parts of the world.

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