Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Review: "The Founding of a Republic (建國大業)"

I previously mentioned this movie in my previous post, here. After having seen it through some online channels, I would like to revisit the movie to see how much actual propaganda could be seen in their government production of a movie. Since I am no movie review guru, I'm just going to hit a few points that stuck out to me.

The movie is presented with subtitles in both Chinese (Simplified) characters, as well as English subtitles. I had to go along with the English subtitles due to my Mandarin not being quite up to par, as well as my Chinese characters' education being in traditional writing.

In one of the opening scenes, we get a cameo appearance from Jet Li, which ultimately led me to start thinking about him in that role and what character he played. Because of this, I was distracted from the subtitles and failed to understand what was going on in that part of the movie. It's nice to have an all-star cast I guess, but at least for me, the short cameos detracted from the movie more than it gave. Part of this is that most of the big name characters like Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Ze-dong are played by non-famous actors, so when you get famous people like Zhang Ziyi and Jet Li coming in on 30 second cameos, it just makes you wonder, needlessly.

In another scene, when Chiang Kai-shek's wife is flown to Washington to plead with the U.S. Secretary of State for assistance for her husband's KMT forces, we see her passing through the entrance of a building where there stands two soldiers "guarding." In one of the most bizarre scenes of the movie, upon seeing CKS's wife walk by, he eyes her like a hound and remarks, "Wow... she's so hot, mang." Needless to say, the soldier in that scene is the only black person (if I recall correctly) to be seen throughout the movie. Great appearance for the blacks, right? Anyways, it was hard to tell if that was thrown in there to lighten up the movie from it's, semi-documentary-esque style movie, or simply part of the way they wanted to portray Americans and/or blacks?

As far as the big two, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Ze-dong, having never seen previous movies produced by the China group that produced this film, they portray both as how I figured they would.

Mao with his pal Zhou Enlai, are seen in ragged clothing, huddled in huts using candles to light the room, and lively dance in the streets with local farmers/peasants after defeating the KMT in a battle. Very much portrayed as your average Chinese, working hard for the greater good of the country. In one scene, Mao is seen with his daughters in the flower fields joking around with them. But, I will say it is a nice touch as far as bringing some personality into his character.

CKS on the other hand is portrayed as a rich and stuck-up leader of the KMT. He (whether it's true or not?) walks around the movie with his cane in almost all the scenes, making him out to be some old hag. There was hardly a smile that appeared on CKS's face throughout the movie, other than the beginning where the truce between the CCP and the KMT was agreed upon.

This carries over into the potrayal of the KMT, corrupt and filled with internal strife, where Chiang's own family is caught in corrupt business practices in Shanghai.

For the CCP, the movie proudly promotes the CCP as the party that unified all of China under principles of democracy. As far-fetched as it sounds, the word "democracy" was seen in many scenes where Mao or Zhou talked of the their plans for a new government. Democracy was talked about so much, that it is possible that 'democracy' was mentioned more times than 'communism/communist,' which is remarkable considering that they are a communist party.

As a Taiwanese, or 'outsider' (not one inside China), I can easily see how this was meant for China's domestic audience only. A lot of historical background is needed to get a better understanding of what is happening. Even though I had enough background in this issue, I felt this movie simply isn't a movie for anyone other than Chinese- especially as a Taiwanese.

As one who supports Taiwan's self-rule and sovereignty, it was hard to "get behind" either the protagonist (CCP), or antagonist (KMT). At one point, I was just too turned off to even have a response towards the movie. Knowing that the CCP currently oppresses Taiwan, along with the fact that the KMT eventually occupies Taiwan and is effectively the cause of the struggles in Taiwan today, it pained me to watch a movie where neither side could be 'my' side.

All in all, it was ok for a historical movie, but I can hardly see how foreigners (especially Taiwanese people) would enjoy watching this (since it is rumored to be appearing in Taiwan next year).

1 comment:

yachi said...

complete bs propaganda movie for the ccp, the irony is there are millions upon millions of them that follow them and they all want us Taiwanese to reunite with what they refer to as "ancestral" or mother land when in fact theirs has only been 60 years and ours has been 97 years. It is such a lie the movie emphasized on the numerous so called "democratic" parties and organizations that makes up the government in effort to hide the fact the CCP has been and still is a dictatorship. In fact, if they weren't, they woudn't be spending all these efforts to prove their legitimacy through lies and propaganda. Most mainland Chinese confuse the idea of patriotism with love for CCP, they don't know that there any other choice other than in order to love their nation, they must love their party. Common mainland folk only knows to claim Taiwan belong to them, not knowing that the CCP has never ruled over Taiwan. On the contrary, the KMT ruled over China for 37 years. I've no problem acknowledging their ethnicity is the same as mine but not in nationality. At least China gave HK the Special administrative district treatment. At the rate that things are going, PRC is eating ROC alive, and in the end, the Taiwanese won't have any voices to say no. It is sad but I don't know how to change it.