Chung Kuo China | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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A four-hour film about modern China made in 1972 by Michelangelo Antonioni. Though I've only been able to sample it, I believe it's one of the very few comprehensive and serious Western documentaries on the subject. (The only other one that I'm aware of is Joris Ivens and Marceline Loridan's equally scarce six-part, 12-hour How Yukong Moved the Mountains, made four years later.) While the Chinese government invited Antonioni to make this film, and Western viewers at the time regarded it as a sympathetic portrayal, the results was widely denounced by the Chinese when it first appeared--a fascinating instance of radically divergent interpretations of the same images and camera angles. It now appears that the denunciation was partially dictated by government policies that had relatively little to do with Antonioni, and it's worth pointing out that the Chinese offered a public apology to the filmmaker in 1980. For the past two decades or so this work has been completely unavailable in the U.S., and it still has no distributor, so this may well be your only chance to see it. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Sunday, May 2, 1:30, and Thursday, May 6, 6:00, 443-3737.

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