I went to my favourite Chinese DVD shop recently, and the first movie the shop owner recommended was this movie. 建党伟业 (jiàn dăng wĕi yè) or the English name – Beginning of the Great Revival is a recent bid budget epic movie that proves highly popular in the mainland. For a historical buff like me, it is a great treat.
The movie covers a series of historical events from fall of Qing dynasty in 1911 to the founding of Chinese Communist Party in June 1921. It’s release in June this year coincides with the 90th anniversary of the founding of Chineese Communist Party. Many important figures during the revolutionary period likeYuan Shi Kai (leading general of Qing who became President of Republic of China), Sun Yat San (founder of Guomindang and father of modern China), Chiang Kai Shek , Hu Shi ( a leading scholar), Chen Duxiu (first leader the Communist Party), Puyi (the last emperor), Song Jiaoren, Mao Zedong and many other are potrayed in the movie by some of the leading Chinese actors.
It is not an easy movie to follow, for those having little knowledge of recent Chinese history. Too many momentous events happened in that tumulteous post Qing period: like the Xinghai revolution of 1911 that toppled the Qing dynasty, the Beiyang government and warlord period, the 21 demands from Japanese in 1915, the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the May Fourth Movement of 1919. It was one of the most lowest period in recent history of the Chinese people. This is how the movie narration started: 政治衰败、经济凋敝、社会残破、民不聊生” – Politics is decayed, the economy in destitute, the society is broken up and people have no means of livelihood. The May Fourth Movement is said to be the catalyst event that lead to the radicalisation or turn towards the Left by many Chinese intellectuals, students and leading political activists in the first half of 20th century.
Is this a propaganda movie? Well, all war movies are basically propaganda movie, whether they are being produced in US, Australia or China. The narratives or viewpoints are always from the national perspective, whether from Australian, US or Chinese perspective. The incidences and characters involved are real characters, and I would think that this is one of those better epic movie as it lead to better understanding of the events and the players of the period that could make one understand better the reasons and circumstances in founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
Making of the movie:
The 2 hour full movie: