Dijiu tianchang (So Long my Son): A Poignant Portrayal of Human Resilience and Political Change in China

Gregor Benton's short review of the Chinese film "Dijiu tianchang (So long my son)" praises it as one of the best Chinese films he's seen, highlighting its commentary on the one-child policy and its portrayal of the Chinese working class's reaction to economic reform, all while being imbued with a deep humanism and optimism.

 

I have just watched the Chinese film Dijiu tianchang (So Long my Son) on BBC iPlayer. It stands out as a remarkable Chinese film. It has lots to say about the pernicious effects of the one-child policy in China. Especially interesting from the point of view of Anti*Capitalist Resistance supporters are the brilliantly presented scenes picturing the reaction of working-class Chinese to the dismantling of large parts of the state-owned sector of the economy in the 1980s, marking in the eyes of many the transition from deformed workers’ state to a form of capitalism, or from state capitalism to full-blown normative capitalism. Above all, the film is imbued with a deep humanism and an optimistic belief in the resilience of the human spirit under a cruel and exploitative political regime.

Above all, the film is imbued with a deep humanism and an optimistic belief in the resilience of the human spirit under a cruel and exploitative political regime.


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Gregor Benton is emeritus professor of Chinese history at Cardiff University. He has published many books on China and other subjects. His principal research areas are modern Chinese history, dissent under communism, and Chinese diaspora. His Mountain Fires: The Red Army's Three-Year War in South China, 1934–1938 won several awards, including the Association of Asian Studies’ prize for the Best Book on Modern China. His translation of Mei Zhi’s F: Hu Feng’s Prison Years won the English Pen Award.

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