Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Up the Yangtze |
Actors: Cindy Shui Yu, Jerry Bo Yu Chen
Director: Yung Chang
Genres: Indie & Art House, Special Interests, Documentary
In China, it is simply known as "The River." But the Yangtze--and all of the life that surrounds it--is undergoing a truly astonishing transformation wrought by the largest hydroelectric project in history, the Three Gorge... more »
A Powerful Documentary about the Personal Cost of Cultural C
David Crumm | Canton, Michigan | 11/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Yangtze" could be described as the mirror reverse of many popular dramatic stories in which a hero is searching the world to rediscover or rebuild a home. Set in China as the massive Three Gorges Dam was completed, this haunting documentary is the story of a teen-age girl, Yu Shui, who has a warm and loving home -- but winds up homeless in the rapidly shifting landscape of modern China.
The documentary comes to DVD, via Zeitgeist Films, with an impressive pedigree. The PBS network aired it nationally. Various regional film festivals bestowed honors. Critics love the film.
It's an amazing piece of documentary filmmaking, because we see footage shot by candlelight in Yu Shui's tiny ramshackle farmhouse along the Yangtze River. Her parents know that the level of the Yangtze is about to rise dramatically, when the enormous dam is completed. They know that their tiny farm will be washed away. Meanwhile, Yu Shui is contemplating her own dreams of training for a profession.
Over a meager family dinner of noodles one evening, she dares to tell her parents that she hopes to continue her education because she knows that China needs "talented, educated" young people. She's hoping to become a professional and wants to help shape the world's future, she explains.
But her parents are illiterate. Their family situation is dire. They tell her that her plans must be put on hold.
Instead, Yu Shui is signed onto one of the luxury cruise ships that now carry tourists down the ever-widening Yangtze River. She is renamed Cindy, given a uniform and a small bunk on a lower deck of the big ship and sent into the kitchen to wash dishes. Eventually, she is taught how to interact with American guests and is allowed to help serve food in the dining room.
She longs to return home and, on a couple of occasions, she manages to return to the tiny family farm for emotional reunions. But the Three Gorges Dam, an enormous power plant, is nearing completion. We see signs popping up throughout the film of the looming floods that will vastly increase the depth and width of the river.
The documentary would be unbearable to watch if Cindy's new managers on the cruise ship were evil task masters. They aren't. In fact, they're compassionate adults, trying to make their own future in China's rapidly changing culture.
I won't spoil the end of the film by describing exactly what transpires -- but you won't forget the final scenes."
Before you go to China....
Steven Smit | 02/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary show a segment of tourism in China today. It shows the changing family life and widely divergent cultures of American tourists and the Chinese who are supporting the travel cruises. I travelled with the same ship/crew on the Yangtze and was suprised by how accurately the personalities were shown. This is an excellent look at China's youth and the new capitalism in China."
Carlos M. Crespo | San Juan, P.R. United States | 01/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Very moving and emotional, nice view of the yangtze river. A must see film. Highly recommended."
PROGRESS OR DESTRUCTION?
Loves To Read | Twin Cities, MN USA | 03/28/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The film is a documentary primarily about a Chinese family living in the town of Fengdu on the Yangtze River. The world's largest dam project, The Three Gorges Dam, will displace about two million people who live along the river when it is completed. Is this progress or destruction? The film does not attempt to answer the question. It simply tells the story of this family and several others whose lives are affected by the new dam. Yu Shui, the 16 year old daughter, wants to be the first to go on to higher education after finishing middle school. The family, however, knows their future is changing as their home (shack really) on the river will soon be underwater when the dam is completed. That means they will have to rent somewhere and will no longer be able to grow their own food. Yu will have to go to work and earn money to go to school. The film follows this shy, young girl and another, outgoing, young man as they are hired by a luxury cruise ship on the Yangtze catering to wealthy European and North American tourists. They must both learn how to please (cater to) these visitors. Her parents also must cope with the changes happening in their lives. This is a film about real people whose lives are being changed by forces beyond their control and they must adapt to a lifestyle that is both unfamiliar and uncomfortable. The contrast between these people and the 'westernized' Chinese of the larger cities that they visit on the ship's itinerary is also portrayed. As China's economy grows and they gain access to more and more of the world's goods and services, the people, whether they want to or not, are being forced to change. The film doesn't judge the merits, it simply tells the stories. One more opportunity to get acquainted with people from this giant country that has come on to the world stage with such great force. Like it or not, we need to know as much as we can about the people we are joined with at the hip in so many ways. Enjoy."