Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.
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
Perhaps I am the dam, as I was unmoved by this film. The promotional material I received prior to the showing of the film had prepared me to see a story about a huge dam project, with serious environmental and human consequences. So I was disappointed that the dam itself was not a major feature of the film, and no environmental issues were raised. But I can't really fault the film itself for the people who promote it, so I'll try to leave that aside. I was impressed with the access that the filmmakers had to get frank comments from a variety of people in the film, and for me that was something new that I enjoyed for a film from China. But still I found it to be a slow film of two kids who are sent by their families to work serving foreign tourists on a river tour boat, and the difficulties that first-time jobs, especially away from home, can bring to anyone. It was also about a very poor family having to move from their shack to a more densely-populated place where they will need to learn a different way of living. In both cases, I found that I was admiring people's ability to find ways to move forward, but I felt that the movie wanted me to believe that this was bad. Some scenes appeared to be included randomly, as they did not fit in with the rest of the film, such as the creepy stop-motion dancing kid, or the praying woman. On the flip side, the story of the two kids working on the boat seems to just stop without explanation after something significant happens to one. I wanted to know more about what happened to each of them. That it was in China, or on the Yangtze, seemed insignificant to the story itself. I don't feel that I know much more about life on the Yangtze, or the Three Gorges Dam, than before I saw the film. Seeing that a documentary of this type can be made in China, I feel this subject is therefore still ripe for someone else to make a more informative documentary about the Yangtze and/or the Dam.
23 of 43 people found this review helpful.
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