Segments in this Video

Mao's Cultural Revolution (02:44)


Chairman Mao's "cultural revolution" sought to control Chinese peoples' lives and thoughts. "The Dismissal of Hai Rui" cleverly mirrors Communist politics in the people's daily lives.

China's Famine (02:49)

Mao propels China into the modern age. The Communist party's push for progress and ignorance of reality results in nationwide famine.

Writers Diminish Mao's Power (03:14)

Defense Minister Peng Dehuai voices concerns against Mao and is "dismissed." Writers use plays and the news media to criticize Mao and diminish his power.

Mao's Little Red Book (03:42)

Mao reunites with his fourth wife, actress Jiang Qing, who recognizes the power of theatre. Mao distributes Lin Biao's "Little Red Book" to his army as a life script for the cultural revolution.

Mao Deflects Opposition (03:24)

Jiang condemns Chinese opera and replaces it with themes of revolutionary struggle and class war. Mao uses the media to stem the tide of Beijing opposition with his own party propoganda.

Mao Appeals to a New Generation (03:15)

Mao favors China's youth to regain power, using the masses to squelch his enemies. He creates the Red Guard to attack old values and turn against their elders.

Mao Creates Chaos (03:06)

Mao terrorizes intellectuals, artists, monks and high-ranking party members, accusing them of "old thinking". He tells the masses to create chaos. Chaos turns into anarchy.

Violence Consumes Revolution (01:38)

Half a million people die in the cultural revolution's ensuing violence. Jiang is blamed and sentenced to death. She commits suicide in 1991.

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"The Play’s the Thing": China’s Cultural Revolution

Part of the Series : Red Chapters: Turning Points in the History of Communism
DVD Price: $149.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $224.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $149.95



The Cultural Revolution, which started in 1966, had less to do with culture than with a violent attempt to control the minds of the Chinese people. Yet it was a play, which slyly criticized Chairman Mao, that raised the curtain on this horrendous period in China’s history, acting as a catalyst for the brutal reforms. Beginning with an excerpt from The Dismissal of Hai Rui, this program presents the details of the movement that led to the deaths of half a million people before finally consuming itself. Jack Gray, author of Rebellions and Revolutions, and Zhang Yongning, son of a Party official, offer their insights into the Communist politics of the day. (25 minutes)

Length: 26 minutes

Item#: BVL10522

Copyright date: ©1999

Closed Captioned

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