A Visual and Visceral Connection to the Cultural Revolution

Hinton, Carma
March 2004
Nieman Reports;Spring2004, Vol. 58 Issue 1, p79
This article recounts the production of the documentary film, Morning Sun, which explored the psychological and emotional topography of China. One of the problems faced in making Morning Sun, was the lack of archival footage from the period of Cultural Revolution. At that time, there was no film equipment in private hands, and cameramen working for state-owned studios were required to register the film stock they took and return every roll of film after their job was done. In making Morning Sun, the production grappled constantly with the issue of how to tell complex stories with limited visual data. Therefore, Morning Sun is not a chronological and comprehensive recounting of political events during the period, but rather an inner history of the age of the Cultural Revolution. Throughout Morning Sun, the producers and directors used feature films from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, to reflect the mental landscape of the young generation that participated in the Cultural Revolution. In addition to representing specific historical events in Morning Sun, these two films--The East Is Red and The Gadfly--serve as historical metaphor and provide a narrative structure for the film.


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