Talk:The East Is Red (1965 film)
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The East is Red is satire
The East is Red is satire, from its opening moments to its close. I have studied this film closely, since first viewing it in 1977.
Often I have heard this film referred to as a harbinger of Mao's cultural revolution, but this is entirely untrue. Such comments are made by some of the world's most famous China experts such as Zhang Rong or Dr Geremie Barmé.
Once the Cultural Revolution was under way, Mao had this film banned. During the ten years of the Cultural Revolution Mme Mao frequently referred to it as a 'poisonous weed.'
After Mao's death The East is Red was re-released, in 1977. Articles about it appeared in the People's Daily confirming that the concoction of this film was a conspiracy, and explained how the conspiracy operated.
I can only identify two songs in this film which seem like genuine praise of Mao: these are two which appear at the point where Mao is chosen as leader at the Zunyi Conference.
If anyone feels that some of the praise of Mao in this film seems horribly overdone, in extreme bad taste, or totally laughable, they are quite correct--that is exactly what was intended. Do people think that the producers of this film were fools? That is not possible--it's shown by the extremely high quality of every scene in the film. All of the cast would have been told that the high standard expected of them was intended to send a message to the world about China's greatness. Unfortunately, people have not absorbed this message.
During the first scene, set on a dock in Shanghai, we see a ship named "President Wilson". The message is clear: "We Chinese did not wish to become Communists. You broke your promises to us--you gave us no choice but to side with Communism."
Near its end there is a long sequence where various ethnic minorities sing of their love of Mao. Notice: minorities! This sequence occurs just after a song where the majority Han had sung of their love of the Communist Party. If you imagine a map of China as the minorities appear, you will see that the focus turns around China in counter-clockwise direction. Once this is pointed out I don't see how anyone can conclude other than that supporters of Mao are being shown up as a reactionary minority.
One of the most stunning anti-Mao jokes comes at the very end. At the beginning of the film the anthem The East is Red was sung, ending with the words "He's the people's great savior--great savior! The film ends with the first verse of The Internationale, sung by the audience. At that time everyone in the audience, mostly Party cadres, would have known by heart the first line of the second verse:
"There's never been any saviour..."
I recommend that people take a second look at this film. Some of the ideas which it puts forward belong neither to the twentieth, nor to the twenty-first century. They seem to come from the twenty-second.
The East is Red resembles Chaplin's The Great Dictator, but Chaplin's film was not made in Germany under the Fuhrer's nose. The purpose of this film was to unite the Party against any attempt by Mao to cause further trouble.
I have heard that a remake has been produced. I imagine that its purpose is to reproduce the original film while removing all elements of satire, thus giving support to the current Communist Party under Xi Jinping.
I recommend that readers look again at this film: there is much to be discovered within it. To those who share my sensibiities, even the very first scene should be quite stunning. It shows that the subject of the film is not Mao, but rather ordinary Chinese people.
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