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China in Revolution: 1911-1949 (1989)

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Credited cast:
Kai-Shek Chiang Kai-Shek Chiang ... Self (archive footage)
Wei-Kuo Chiang Wei-Kuo Chiang
Chen Li-fu Chen Li-fu ... Self - Former Nationalist Official
Zedong Mao ... Self (archive footage)
Ching-Ling Soong Ching-Ling Soong ... Self - Wife of Sun Yat Sen (archive footage)
Hsi-Lien Soong Hsi-Lien Soong ... Self - Former Nationalist Cadet
Yat-sen Sun ... Self (archive footage)
Chang Tieh-Chun Chang Tieh-Chun ... Self
Mo Wen-Hua Mo Wen-Hua ... Self
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Well done....
23 August 2013 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

When I looked up "China in Revolution" on IMDb, I didn't find it. After a bit of digging, I realized that originally this was shown as three separate shows over many years. The DVD set "China in Revolution" consists of: Part One: China in Revolution 1911-1949 (1989), Part Two: The Mao Years 1949-1976 (1994) and Part Three: Born Under the Red Flag 1976-1997 (1997). This review is for Part One.

This episode picks up immediately before the creation of the Chinese Republic in 1911--discussing the context for the creation of a more representative government for China. Then the rest of the show concerns the struggle between Mao Zedong's Communists and Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalists. Even when other events occur, such as the horrific invasion of China by the Japanese, the underlying struggle between Nationalists and Communists simmers. The show ends with the victory of the Communists in 1949.

For the most part, I loved this two-hour show. It was very effective in summing up a 38 year story of China. My only reservation is that I really need to see part two--and I will update my review after this. It's because so much of part one was a glowing endorsement of Mao--such as wonderful descriptions of his love for his troops. If the next episode is ALSO a slobbering love letter to Mao, then I have huge problems with the show since he is one of the worst, if not THE worst, mass murderers in history. But, it could easily be that he just seemed wonderful in the 1930s and 40s by comparison and episode two will be more balanced. Heck, considering how inept and non-representative Chiang's government was and how unequal society was, Mao would have seen like a wonderful alternative. Had I been Chinese and living at the time, I sure would have found him attractive--unaware of his eventual callous disregard for his people.

Well worth seeing--stay tuned for a follow-up.

UPDATE: I was a bit appalled by the follow-up in Part Two, as although the facts were essentially correct, the film completely minimized and ignored the widespread butchering of 'enemies of the people'--saying only at one point that as many as 100,000 were killed. Actual estimates number in the millions--many millions. The fact that Mao is among the greatest mass murderers in history (perhaps the greatest in sheer numbers) is never even alluded to--and this is insulting to the memory of these dead. A HUGE disappointment. Perhaps the filmmakers didn't want to insult the current Chinese administration in order to get cooperation in making the film!


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