A Chinese film’s take on the events surrounding the 1943 Cairo Conference has been unmercifully mocked by web users who’ve accused the makers of distorting history by seemingly placing Mao Zedong at the historic summit, although he was most definitely not there.
The Cairo Declaration, produced by a People’s Liberation Army-linked film studio, focuses on the meeting in Egypt that saw UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin Roosevelt and Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek of China’s Nationalist Party gather to discuss the progress of the war against Japan. The big-budget film is one of various propaganda pieces being pushed out to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and seems to make very liberal use of artistic license.
This is mainly due to the surprising appearance by Chairman Mao in the movie posters. The Great Helmsman’s face is featured prominently on promotional material, while Chiang Kai-shek’s is not, misleading viewers into believing he was one of the main players in the 1943 dialogue.
Adam Cathcart, a University of Leeds historian, explains in a Guardian report that is is not the case, but that it follows a long-time trend by the Communist party to “insert itself at the main junctures of Chinese history”.
“I don’t believe the producers have gone so far as to send Mao to Cairo in the film, but placing him at the vanguard of establishing the global order in 1943 seems to be stretching things,” he said.
“Mao was extremely well informed about how the wider war in Europe, in China, and the Pacific was going,” Cathcart said. “But to depict him as the mental crucible of China’s second world war international policy is overreaching.”
Even state-run rag The Global Times has laid into the producers’ promotional choices.
“We can’t say that Mao had nothing to do with the meeting because the Communist Party of China led by Mao at that time had already become an important force [against the Japanese army] during the war,” Sima Pingbang, a Chinese cultural critic, told the Global Times Sunday.
“However, by featuring Mao, who was not present at the meeting, but excluding Chiang , the poster shows no respect for history nor to Mao,” Sima said.
Although the film will be reviewed by China’s media watchdog, posters are not. Film publicists are trying to catch attention, which has definitely crossed the line. It might also be used by some people to defame chairman Mao, Sima said.
And that it has. Fake movie posters showing other unlikely, but hilarious, figures edited Mao’s place have been making the rounds online. You, too, can add yourself into the promotional material thanks to the web user who promptly published this website.
— Uyghur from E.T (@Uyghurspeaker) August 16, 2015
A person involved with the film’s production said that featuring Mao was a tribute to the CPC’s contributions during the war, as “The nation’s efforts in the war led to the country’s international recognition, and efforts made by CPC members guided by Mao are an important part of them”.
The spokesperson said that posters featuring Chiang Kai-shek “will be released soon”.
Watch the movie trailer here:
[Images via Twitter // Weibo]