Film: 8606

Places + Locations | 1960 | Sound | Colour


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Commentary on contemporary life of people in the People's Republic of China in the early 1960s.
Places of interest (palaces and temples), ways of life (commune centred: farming, fishing, silk production, wood carving) and political outlook (anti-American propaganda which is quite funny in a Cold War)
Peking (Beijing). Famous sites:
The Forbidden City (Imperial Palace) 9,000 room palace and courtyard complex.(Death to those who enter without permission.) Home of Chinese Emperors and their court. General shots of buildings and courtyards. Close up of roof tiles with carved animals (end figure of man sitting on a chicken) to keep away evil spirits. Close up of Golden Lion statue (symbol of power) one paw with cub other paw with globe. Tiled wall with dragon relief.
The Summer Palace to the Northwest of the city. 800 years old. Shot of the Emperor Dowager' two-storied immovable marble boat at the edge of the lake.
Men standing up and rowing covered boats on lake. People in utilitarian Mao suits. The Long Corridor - a covered walkway (longest in the world?) along the north side of the lake. People walking along the corridor. Close up of the inside of the roof painted with scenes illustrating ancient Chinese ways of life.
The Temple of Heaven in south Peking. Complex centres on main circular temple where Emperors came twice a year to pray for a good harvest. Erected in 1300 AD during the Ming dynasty. (Destroyed by fire in the 19th Century and rebuilt with timber from Oregon, USA! The marble tiers and steps leading to the wooden temple were removed and shipped out of Peking during the war.) People walking up marble steps. To the right of the steps the marble slabs with the dragon relief were reserved as a walkway for the Emperor's use only. The shot shows potted trees placed so as to discourage people from stepping on the slabs. Two more shots of complex: side of building and long marble pathway (again for Emperor's use only). The pathway leads through two gates.
Shanghai. The Jade Buddhist Monastery. Inner Courtyard with two monks (shaved heads) dressed in black standing on steps leading into temple. Temple structure supported by red lacquered wood pillars. At the foot of the stone steps is a large incense burner (cast bronze?) Close up on monks' head and shoulders. Older monk in white costume walking diagonally across camera away from red lacquered screen forming side of building. Interior shot of 7 monks sitting at a table. Their hands are pressed together in prayer (or meditation). On the table are scriptures and icons. A wooden bell, the size of a football, is being beaten with a stick. Close up of monks chanting and beating other instruments. Close up of old man - the last abbot of the monastery before religious practiced was banned in China (Communist era of 1949 to present day - though since the late 1980s religion has been tolerated). Middle-aged woman with beads in hand kneels and worships gilded statue of Buddha. Stands and kow-tows with hands together. Buddhist temple music as background to commentary. Older couple praying. Monk at altar.
Peking. Street scenes: avenues around Tiananmen Square. Traffic policeman under parasol on raised platform directing traffic with baton. Two old women with bound feet and canes hobble along Tian'anmen Square.
Students in back of truck travelling out of city to rural farms to share in peasants' work. Scenes of countryside taken from moving train: simple village dwellings and peasants in rice paddies.
Southern China. Peasant activities: using forks in paddy fields, walking on treadmill waterwheel (invented in China 2,000 years ago), girls wading and weeding by hand, delivery of human manure by boat for fertiliser (open hold of human waste slopping around!), spreading manure with fork, harvesting of rice by hand, carrying of bushels on yokes, threshing of rice using hand pulled stone roller and also water buffalo pulled stone rollers, water buffalo pulling hoes through harvested rice fields, grain taken to town by donkey and cart. Grain in sacks on tricycle carts being ridden near Tiananmen Square in Peking. Man pulling vegetable laden cart in town.
Back in country: Sick black pig carried in sling on pole by two peasants. Shots of imported western cattle and stud bull, Horse stud and duck farm. Close up of white ducks being force fed by hand operated pump. (Increasing human population requires increased food production. Ducks ready to eat after only 60 days.) Ducks in enclosed pond.
North China farm. Noodles (made from wheat) hanging out to dry on open air lines. Girls unloading racks of dried noodles from cart and taking them indoors. (All farms state-owned and part of larger communes). Peasants and commune buildings. Young school children in classroom. Schoolchildren in playground bouncing balls under legs. Interior shots of commune committee and leader. Poster of Chairman Mao above map of China. Drawings of farmyard activities to instruct illiterate peasants. Exterior shots of peasants in military training: drilling with rifles. Brick making by hand.
South China tea plantation. Women in wide brimmed hats against mountain backdrop. Close up of tea picking.
River life. Traditionally rigged wooden craft. Riverman in grass coat (to keep out the rain) steering vessel with long pole. Shots of village and grass coated farmers. Cormorant fisherman with his trained birds catching fish. Birds released and return to boat with aid of pole. Fisherman in grass coat removes fish from bird's mouth.
Mouth of River Yangtze. Junks under sail. Working in tandem junks haul fishing nets aboard. Catch of valuable small silver fish. Canal off Yangtze: vessel (sampan) loaded with vegetables and operated by boatman in grass coat. Timber floated in rafts with lumberjacks on top. (Both commodities for Shanghai.)
Mountain backdrop of Mulberry bushes being harvested. Leaves gathered to feed silkworms. Wriggling worms. Silk cocoons form and sorted by hand in trays. Cocoons boiled and sent to spinnery where silk is wound off by machine: row of workers at machine. (Each cocoon gives 1,000 metres of silk). Silk dyed. Silk on loom being woven into cloth. Close up of loom, cloth and embroiderers.
Woodcarving: traditional style carving of scenic relief for export. Home market carving of 3 dimensional models: pig girl, spray girl (fertiliser) and enemy soldier being hanged. Silk sunshade being made by hand.
Shanghai: overview of Yangtze river and downtown area. Distant shot of people crossing bridge.
Propaganda. Peking: Street scenes with cycle rickshaws. Shop fronts and street traders (state owned). Local communist part leader with megaphone. Young people in marching band. Tian'anmen Square with Chinese national flags. Large poster portrait of Mao side by side with portrait of foreign leader - almost certainly the President of Albania, Enver Hoxha. Ranks of children preparing for mass demonstration. Propaganda posters encouraging the hatred of China's enemies. Poster shows defeated American soldier. Outdoor scene of schoolchildren dancing with tambourines accompanied by teacher on accordion. Dance and song praises the glory of the state.
The Children's' Palace (Peking): exterior shot of western style building(old embassy from pre-communist era?). Outside the Young Pioneers (schoolchildren) practice military drilling. Chant: "When we grow up we will fight for the Fatherland." Chant partly obscured by commentary. Anti-American poster. Animated poster of enemy aircraft being shot out of the sky. Young Pioneers, with rifles, shoot at the poster. Model of enemy being punched - activated by Young Pioneer punching pad. Model of enemy soldier being hanged. Young Pioneers in training: guerrilla warfare including assault course of nets, walls and ropes. Older girls taught the use of rifles: crawling on bellies and firing. For relaxation: traditional musical instruments in small orchestral formation. Girls dancing in pink trouser costumes.
The Great Stadium, Peking, filled with 100,000 people for the Chinese National Games (every 4 years). 8,000 students in the stands raise placards on cue to form large visual patterns: Chairman Mao, political slogans and pictures (the torch of freedom, the oil field, the army and navy, the rice terraces). On the field, other students make large visual formations: a rolling field of wheat, the wheels of industry and the flag of China.

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