Hit & Run

What If Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Had Been a Maoist Revolutionary Epic?

Friday A/V Club: Springtime for Mao

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From the 1965 Chinese film The East Is Red, a "song and dance epic" based on a stage show that had been produced under the personal supervision of Premier Zhou Enlai, I give you the fabulous dance steps and rat-a-tat gunfire of "March of the People's Liberation Army":

You can see the seeds there of the infamous Maoist model operas that were performed throughout Communist China during the Cultural Revolution of 1966–76. But during that period, this Springtime-for-Mao extravaganza was banned from China's stages and screens. Apparently, even The East Is Red's heavy-handed propaganda wasn't heavy-handed enough for the authorities. Only after the Cultural Revolution ended and the so-called Gang of Four were ousted from power did the regime allow the film to be screened again.

That's right: In 1977, this exaltation of a totalitarian party represented liberalization. I guess you've got to start somewhere.

The whole movie is embedded below, complete with an opening message denouncing the Gang of Four and celebrating the decision to let the film be shown once more. Mini-review: The dancing is much better than the writing.

Bonus link: "What If the Beach Boys Had Been Communists?"

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here. If you just want the installments that feature kitschy propaganda for Marxist-Leninist dictatorships, you can watch artifacts from North Korea here and from the Stalin-era Soviet Union here.)