extensive biography of one of the important leaders of our time
I have seen the four one-hour parts series on the European culture channel ARTE and I must say this is one of the most extensive and complete historical series that I have seen for a long time. The format allowed the makers of this film gathering together a lot of filmed material, organizing and bringing it to screen in the four episodes, each dedicated to a different period of Mao's life and of the history of China. The richness of filmed materials for the majority of the episodes that were described was very useful.
Mao is described in this film as a complex character, a skilled and determined politician who knew how to gather together the political forces and especially the support of the masses in key moments of the Chinese history. His achievements and his failures are described in all their complexity, as well as the impact of his policies on the life and history of China. The commentary based on Philip Short's book is competent and balanced, and the personal witness of some of the participants, as well as of people impacted by Mao's policies complement nicely the archive filmed sequences which are at the core of the film. The last section exceeds beyond Mao's death to speak about the evolution of China after his death, about his legacy, and about how he is perceived today in China.
This is for sure a solid and complete documentary that will remain a reference for future researchers.
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