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The Mao Years: 1949-1976 (1994)


Sue Williams


Sue Williams


Will Lyman


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Credited cast:
Will Lyman ... Narrator (voice)


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Ambrica Productions





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While the facts are essentially correct, the film seemed incredibly nonchalant about widespread murder.
26 August 2013 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

When I looked up "China in Revolution" on IMDb, I didn't find it. After a bit of digging, I realized that originally this was shown as three separate shows over many years. The DVD set "China in Revolution" consists of: Part One: China in Revolution 1911-1949 (1989), Part Two: The Mao Years 1949-1976 (1994) and Part Three: Born Under the Red Flag 1976-1997 (1997). This review is for Part Two.

Not surprisingly, this installment of the China trilogy begins just after the Communists gained control of the Chinese mainland and ends with the death of Mao. The film, while quite factual and well constructed, was a disappointment. While Part One was critical of the Nationalist government (and rightfully so as they seemed to have no regard for the peasants), Part Two seemed, at times, amazingly non-committal about the murders of many millions of Chinese by the new regime. Twice during the film actual numbers of killed were mentioned (100,000 landlords killed just after the revolution and about 400,000 during the Cultural Revolution), but otherwise the film was amazingly silent. Considering the LOW estimates of the numbers executed or starved to death during Mao's reign are in the low millions and high estimates top 70,000,000, doesn't the films not mentioning this seem wrong?! It would be like a documentary about Hitler mentioning the murder of Gypsies, homosexuals and political prisoners--but no mention of the 6,000,000 Jews! This show really makes me wonder what was going on behind the scenes with this film. Did the filmmakers deliberately fail to mention the huge atrocities so that they could gain the cooperation of the present administration? Or, did they have some other agenda? All I know is that although the film appeared well made, the film was basically dishonest--making the deaths that occurred seem only to be the responsibility of some radical peasants taking it upon themselves to execute some 'enemies of the state'.

Overall, a film that seemed to try hard NOT to criticize Mao. Why? I have no idea. But let's not have a whitewash here--he was an incredibly evil man.

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