Watching the “The Founding of a Republic” from 2009 yesterday, there were some very interesting history lessons and new discoveries.
The movie roughly covered the time period between WWII and the founding of the Peoples Republic of China by Mao in October 1949, with Mao and Zhou Enlai as chief architects.
After Japan quickly surrendered after the bombs in 1945 – a civil war in China continued for some years between the Nationlist Party and the Communist Party. In the end the communists won, and Mao became the supreme leader of China from 1949-76, spanning almost three decades as Chairman of the Republic.
The movie was state sponsored and released at the 60th anniversary of China two years ago. Thus, it is an interesting study in nation-building and what kind of identity and perspective on history the country and the young might have today. General impressions as an outsider were a selective account – and mostly all positive about Mao and his party. Two small things though, they smoke all the time, and they do a couple of swipes at the US for not helping Mao in his efforts to win the war. Truman is too busy with Europe and other things. Also, China owes America money and keep talking about repayment and more credit. So for the younger generation of China today, it’s clearly portrayed as a negative indifference from America in desperate times and great need for help. Probably feeding nationalist pride and little sympathy for US decline and debt problems these days. Effective storytelling on many levels.
The movie ends with a “rising sun” and the founding of the Republic in October 1949, after a thorough discussion about flag design and national anthem and lyrics. Lots of smiles and pathos, huge armies, happy young people and big speeches and applause. A new era had begun.
All in all – an interesting watch and useful starting point for exploring recent chinese history.