Chinese cinema under Mao

Jun Li – Nong nu AKA Serfs (1963)

From the BFI website:
Drama about the exploitation of a Tibetan serf and his liberation by the People’s Liberation Army. Orphaned Jampa is brought up by his grandmother until she dies when he is twelve. The serf-owner Namgyal makes him a house serf and ill-treats him. Lamka, the sister of his blacksmith friend Gezong, tells him the P.L.A. has reached Tibet. Jampa, Gezong and the P.L.A defeat the plots of Namgyal and Thugpen, the hypocritical `living buddha’ and the serfs are emancipated. Read More »

Bailu Feng – Bai yi zhan shi AKA Soldier in White (1949)

A heroic People’s Liberation Army nurse continues caring for wounded and getting them safely to hospital even though she has been wounded. Read More »

Xu Tao – People of the Grasslands aka People on the Steppe aka People on the Prairie (1953)

‘This movie was adapted according to the homonymy fiction by Malaqinfu. There was a pair of lovers in a big plain, shepherdess Sarengewa and hunter Sangbu. They were dear to each other, worked arduously, and built their pleasant life with their hands. Secret agent Baolu did something bad, and persuade Sarengewa’s father Baiyire to retreat from Huzhu group, Baiyire refused him understandingly. Then Baolu thought up another trick: he cut the rope of the livestock balustrade under the cover of storm, frightened livestock escaped all around. Read More »

Michelangelo Antonioni – Chung Kuo – Cina (1972)

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In 1970, Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni was asked to return to his roots as a documentarian for this profile of China, fully sanctioned by the government of the People’s Republic. In a detached, distant style, the director and his crew pick up snatches of life in and around Bejing, including: kids at an elementary school; a hospital where a woman is giving a cesarean birth; and a cotton mill and its workers. Despite Antonioni’s efforts, China denounced the finished film, and as such, it has gone relatively unseen in most parts of the world, including the United States. Read More »