Rocking the Great Walls | Chicago Reader

Rocking the Great Walls

Cui Jian, China's biggest rock star, became the voice of the Tiananmen generation when students and workers sang his songs as anthems of protest. New York documentarian Victor Huey compiled this 1993 video of concert footage, archival photos, and backstage interviews, but his editing is slapdash, his shots poorly lit, and his interview segments mostly clueless. Cui is mesmerizing onstage, half Elvis and half Dylan, and his music is an intriguing blend of jazz, punk, and Canto-pop. But offstage he speaks in halting platitudes, displaying cockiness and naivete at the same time. On the same program, a collection of Cui's music videos, directed by Zhang Yuan (Mama, East Palace, West Palace) between 1989 and 1996; like the music, they?re a tapestry of Eastern and Western elements dressed up in MTV fashion.

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