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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
No big statement, just basic realism to very strong effect.
For such a slow paced documentary, you might at first doubt it's ability to draw you in. Initially, I watched the film because I somehow expected it to be one man's journey into the depths of China. But, no, it's not really about that. Instead of diving into China as a geographical location, "Up the Yangtze" concerns itself with the culture and politics of modern China as it affects the average citizen.
Two characters are central to this documentary's narrative. 'Cindy' who lives with her family in a shack beside the rapidly rising river, and 'Jerry' who comes from a higher standard of life in the city. They both find themselves working on a cruise ship which goes up and down the Yangtze river. The passages which deal directly with the ship and ship's passengers are rather revealing. The tourists come off largely as self-absorbed and unimaginative people with far too much money. They seem to all share peculiarly uninterested attitudes. This comes in rather stark contrast to the locals' acute awareness of their situation.
There are several interviews throughout the course of the film that reveal a darker side than might first be visible. This is particularly poignant during an interview carried on with a shopkeeper while a heated argument goes on outside.
Certain limitations are apparent in such a focused documentary, but it's very interesting and more than worth your attention.
RATING: 7.0 out of 10
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