1983 / 52 minutes

Directed by
Leslie Woodhead Claire Lasko
Country of production
United Kingdom
Disappearing World Series

These three films (‘Inside China: Living with the Revolution’; ‘The Newest Revolution’; ‘The Kazakhs of China’) present a valuable record of aspects of most recent developments in China. (A. Jenkins)

Through the words and lives of two families, the first of these companion films examines change in two villages of southern China near Wuxi. One of these families, the Dings, are obviously influential members of the community and the parents have lived in the area of what is now called Big Ding Village all their lives. The other family, the Jues, live in the more traditional and rural Wong Jong Commune. Constantly the film compares life for these families before and after Liberation in 1949. Mrs Ding remembers her bitter childhood, the near infanticide of her fifth sister because as a girl the baby could only be a burden to the already over-extended family. Both the Dings and the Jues discuss the brutality of the Japanese, how the Japanese stole crops, how Mrs Ding’s father hid her in the woodpile to save her from rape and possible murder by Japanese soldiers. The families recount their initial fear of the Communist Army, then their growing excitement for the ideals of the Party after Liberation. They discuss the factions and fear of the Cultural Revolution, and the one Ding son who joined the Red Guards remembers his excitement on seeing Mao. He doesn’t discuss the violence he may have helped create during these months as a Red Guard, although Mrs Ding hints at the dangers of giving any criticism of government policy during that period. More intimate revelations broadcast over national television could have been dangerous for the interviewees; the film makers are to be commended for their portrayal, creating a balanced picture of the individual in China while at the same time protecting that individual’s privacy. The historical perspective sets the stage for the current prosperity of the villages and the families. The film makers make clear the Wuxi, an area where prosperity and the success of the new policies after the Cultural Revolution are evident, was the Chinese government’s choice not theirs, yet within that confine, they were given complete freedom in their filming. Individual memories compare a past of hunger and want, with present material consumption, a bride’s dowry valued at 700.00 yuan, and new homes. The rights of women have improved: Mrs Ding is a Production Team Leader and a silkworm expert, while Mrs Jue makes money by working the family’s alloted land. The interactions within each family are clearly drawn, and by the end of the film, we feel a closeness with these families, for all they have known and for the hope they have for their future.

Language and subtitles
English with English Subtitles
Central Asia and Far East
Social Change History Family / Kinship

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