Chinese movie damns Mao with official approval using the ploy of love story


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
hinese movie damns Mao with official approval using the ploy of love story

BEIJING: A simple love story running to packed houses in cinema halls across China has become an instrument for the Communist Party to criticize its own past. The movie is replete with dialogue denouncing several aspects of Mao Dezong's rule during the Cultural Revolution in the seventies.

The movie tells the story of young lovers, who suffer due to the regime's suspicion and intolerance towards children of political dissidents. The girl's father is in jail for his rightist views and she and her mother are under surveillance.

The boy's mother was forced to commit suicide because she had capitalistic attitudes like dressing smartly and applying make-up.

This is the first serious attempt by the Chinese film industry to come to terms with the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76. The decade saw Mao Zedong sending the youth to work in farms after closing down schools, widespread damnation of intellectuals for their "bourgeois values" and enforcing his own personality cult.

World renowned director Zhang Yimou, who crafted the stupendous opening ceremony during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, has used the ploy of a love story to tell his audience that the present regime is a lot better than the Communist leaders of the past.

"They only scold honest people," the heroine says as a bunch of party officials castigate her mother, who is a teacher but has also been asked to sweep the school premises. The mother constantly warns her daughter not to disobey party orders as a single mistake can ruin her life.

There are scenes and dialogue that come close to lampooning the people's devotion towards Mao Dezong during the violent decade. Biting criticism of the party is juxtaposed in the backdrop of singing and slogan shouting by young students saying Mao was higher than the moon and the stars, and those who opposed the party were enemies of the people.

"That decade means all misery to me, and there were tens of millions who had the same experience as me," director Zhang, the son of officer in the Nationalist Kuomintang forces that fought Chairman Mao's Red Army, said in a recent interview.

The censors did not give him much trouble with the movie, he said. "It went very smoothly. They were touched, too, and saw it as a love story," the 58-year old Zhang, nominee for multiple Oscars, said. He accepted "there are limitations to film making in China. It depends on how you deal with it."

In the movie, the lovers meet when the heroine is sent to a village for re-education, which was a form of punishment for the children of rebels during the Cultural Revolution. A party official tells her that such children can be re-educated even though their parents have committed crimes.

One refrain that runs through the movie is: "Maybe, the politics will change some day".

At one stage, the girl asks the hero if a certain proverb came from Mao's Red Book. "It is probably from Lenin," the hero says dismissively to show that a lot of Mao thoughts were actually imported from sources he later denounced.

The heroine says repeatedly: "I am always afraid of making mistakes". This is significant in today's China, which has encourages students, businessmen and professionals to be innovative as long as they do not intrude the political sphere.

Read more: Chinese movie damns Mao with official approval using the ploy of love story - The Times of India Chinese movie damns Mao with official approval using the ploy of love story - The Times of India


The Chairman
Apr 17, 2009
What a shame to lampoon the Great Helmsman who lifted China from abject poverty and superstition.

Mao was a shining beacon for China!

I can't say I am a great admirer of Mao, but then I do acknowledge his contribution, ruthless as it may have been, to shake China from its opium induced slumber!


Senior Member
Jan 17, 2010
It's great that people are able to review that part of history with more candor.

Public opinion about a character like Mao is like a pendulum... similar to Stalin, or Napoleon.

After Mao's death his 'comrades' blamed it all on him "it was all Mao's faults. we were merely 'followers' ". Hoewever, as time goes by, more and more info is 'declassified' people've got to learn more and more truth. Even Deng once confessed "Weren't we even more fanatical at that time? Weren't we also policymakers?" That's politics.

Mao was a Don Quixote-like idealist but very sober at the same time.

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