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This Chinese blockbuster had only one patron in the large Cinema 4 at the local multiplex this morning. This is the second time in a few weeks where I’ve been the sole customer – it says something about my choice of movies, I suppose!

Large attendances in China, I am led to understand, are manipulated by the temporary banning of other new releases and enforced attendances by schools and other groups. The acting is stiff and the story line disjointed, presupposing knowledge of the details of the historic fall of the last imperial dynasty (1911) and the official birth of the Chinese Communist Party (1st July, 1921). What a coincidence to be watching this in such solitary fashion on its 90th anniversary, for which the film was commissioned!

The ideological irony of such cinematography is highly apparent. Much was made of the education and the student basis of the revolution and the injustice perpetrated by the power brokers to suppress the freedom being sought. Fast forward to Tiananmen Square six decades on and we see the liberated repeating history, but this time as oppressors.

I appreciated a greater understanding of the Japanese role in China during this time and the significance of the Shandong problem in the Treaty of Versailles, something I had been vaguely aware of but not had a complete handle on. But, as I say, one needs to come to this movie with some historical appreciation – first, to be able to fill in the gaps in the jumpy story-line, and secondly, to be able to filter what many would see as little but propaganda.

Won’t give it a score as unfavourable reviews are blocked in China!

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