The evolution of the People's Republic of China is told in this spectacular song and dance production, 'Dongfang hong' or 'The East is Red'. Vast, solemn, and glorifying the progress ... See full summary »

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The evolution of the People's Republic of China is told in this spectacular song and dance production, 'Dongfang hong' or 'The East is Red'. Vast, solemn, and glorifying the progress towards Communist victory, this cornucopia of purposeful entertainment, ostensibly presented in the Great Hall of the People, is pre-Cultural Revolution propaganda at its most lavish. Written by Gooper briansahib@yahoo.com

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1965 (China)  »

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The East Is Red  »

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Soundtracks

The Internationale
Words by Eugène Pottier (as Eugene Pottier)
Music by Pierre Degeyter
Performed by orchestra and ensemble
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If only all propaganda could be this good...
23 August 2010 | by See all my reviews

Disclaimer: I am not a communist, and recognize this play is pure propaganda, put forward by a regime that killed hundreds of thousands, etc etc.

But still, what a grandiose play! The music is delicious and addictive, the colours bright and wonderfully kitch.

If you can take propaganda with a pinch of salt and humour, you'll love that musical for all the great tunes and amazing dance numbers. It stars many performers (I'm guessing about 100 singer/dancers and a choir of about 300), amongst whom are some of the best singers China has ever produced, who then went on having great careers.

Amusingly, by dating from before the Cultural Revolution, it stars many ethnic minorities and traditional dresses (actually, it makes a point of showing off diverse cultural peoples), Uncle Toming them to death by having them sing loving hymns and peans to Mao. 2 years after the release, all of this would be killed by the now official battle against the "4 old" (traditions and customs) which were supposedly a barrier to "real" communism.

So it's also a tale about the "good years" of communist China, a time long gone and already disappearing when the movie was released.


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