This is the key with films made in China: if it’s own country banned the film but it did well internationally, the film is likely to provide an honest reimagining of China’s history. China’s history spans around 4,000 years. So, there’s a heck of a lot of ground to cover and it’s not all going to be pretty.
This is a country I’ve not only never been to, but one whose history I know so little about I would probably have a massive culture shock and find it hard to understand why/how the country has developed the way it has. Why does China ban all its films that show the Nation in a poor light? Why is Facebook banned? How exactly did communism take over? Knowledge is power, as they say. I’m not saying film should replace history books and documentaries as an easy way of learning about a country, but they are fantastic at offering up ideas, struggles of a culture from the storytelling of the people that live through it.
The Blue Kite (1993)
This is exactly the kind of film I’m referring to when I talked about China banning their own filmmaker’s films about China’s history. I absolutely adore films told from the perspective of children because, since they don’t often make well-received feature films, their point of view and the world through kid’s eyes can go so easily ignored. The child in question is Tietou, an adorable little boy growing up in China during the 1950s and 1960s and was therefore affected by the Anti-Rightist movement and the film includes pinnacle events in China at the time such as the Cultural revolution, the Hundred Flowers Campaign and the Great Leap Forward.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Perhaps one of the top 3 most worldwide famous films from China if not the most famous, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy awards and heaps of others. If you don’t know much about the history of China’s dynasties and want to learn more about Martial Arts which are both so integral to Chinese culture, I definitely recommend this film. I also recommend this film just because it’s really good.
The World (2004)
I perhaps could have picked a more widely renowned film for the third slot, but I decided on The World for its wanderlust factor. The film is named after Beijing’s World Theme Park, a place filled with smaller versions of famous monuments around the world: the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, etc. where visitors can pose for photographs and ‘travel the world’ in a day. The film features around two workers at the park and insights us into the regular lives of young Beijingers, culture as commodity and surprisingly was approved by the Chinese Government on it’s release.
Can you think of any other films that will inspire travellers to go to China?