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A luxury cruise boat motors up the Yangtze - navigating the mythic waterway known in China simply as "The River." The Yangtze is about to be transformed by the biggest hydroelectric dam in history. At the river's edge - a young woman says goodbye to her family as the floodwaters rise towards their small homestead. The Three Gorges Dam - contested symbol of the Chinese economic miracle - provides the epic backdrop for Up the Yangtze, a dramatic feature documentary on life inside modern China. Written by
National Film Board of Canada
Sorry if you were looking for Wall-E or something else 'feel good', this is a documentary focusing on two young people at the center of change in China. The Three Gorges Dam, at the time of filming was beginning to flood areas where about 2 million people were being displaced, as we are told, for the good of the country, which appears a phrase parroted enough in the belief it will come true.
'Jerry' is a Have, while 'Cindy' is a 'have not.' Both seek employment on a cruise ship for western tourists. Little is told of Jerry's family, which is apparently better off than Cindy's, which the film focuses on. Cindy's family are poor farmers who are doing fairly well, but know everything will change when their home and fields will be flooded. The hardship of change is clear and Cindy works hard to help support her family. Jerry doesn't show the same work ethic, which leaves the viewer to draw their own conclusion of traditional vs. modern values.
Quite a lot of detail on modern China is available to the viewer, including frequent complaints of corruption. I was moved considerably by the contrasts and the snips of history, which show not all have prospered in modern China, though there is again parroted belief that anyone can succeed. It was also a bit surprising to see in China High School education is not a given for everyone.
I found this to be a very informative and well done documentary and highly recommend it to anyone wishing to see the changes and impact of this dubious national project.
11 of 17 people found this review helpful.
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