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China: Beyond the Clouds (1994)



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Referenced in The 50 Greatest Documentaries (2005) See more »

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An amazing historical snapshot of China
4 July 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This documentary made such an impression on me as a teenager that I vowed one day to visit the town it profiles, Lijiang in Yunnan Province, Southwest China.

The documentary was purportedly shot over ten years in the Naxi autonomous region in Yunnan province, documenting a beautiful little town seemingly untouched by modern life, with irrigation channels flowing through the town for people to wash their clothes in.

In the shadow of Jade Dragon mountain, the village contains many different characters profiled in the documentary, including the local doctor and a schoolteacher. We gain an insight into their lives and the unfolding of various events in the town.

I visited Lijiang in 2002 about twelve years after seeing this documentary, and in a way it was like coming home to somewhere I knew so well.

The haunting soundtrack is the icing on the cake for this beautiful documentary. The only negative comment I would say is that I preferred the voice over narrating the UK version of the documentary broadcast on terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4, rather than that on the US version.

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