Finally it all makes sense!
A flowery, pretentious narrator, archive footage and interviews with journalist, and the film’s screenwriter, Theodore White and author Pearl Buck, make this 1967 documentary, brought to us by the CIA and the National Security Council, a misinformed gem.
Tracing China’s political history starting at the Opium Wars (which broke out after China had already survived the “tyranny of Confucius”… the tyranny of Confucius?), to the Empress Dowager and the Boxer Rebellion to Sun Yat-Sen to the rise of Mao and the Communist Party.
It’s worth a watch for some fascinating archived newsreel footage of the Bund and of US soldiers playing polo with broomsticks on donkeys (how have we never heard about this?), but the film’s tone is nothing less than condescending, portraying China as a mess of people living on the same land, in desperate need of the West to untangle the madness of its mind. We’ve come quite a way.