“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

China on Film – A Feast for Lovers of Old China Footage

Posted: January 11th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

I spent much of the summer as the Historical Consultant on a two-part documentary, China on Film. The documentary was produced by Make Production for Channel News Asia in Singapore, directed by Jeremy Bristow and narrated by the cinematographer Christopher Doyle. The documentary covers film of China from the very earliest early twentieth century footage to the Second World War – most of it is from the treasure troves of the British Film Institute Archives in London. You can imagine that a summer in a dark room watching footage of old China and trying to work out where, what, who and when was about the best summer imaginable for me!!

Anyway, you can watch the two episodes here on Channel News Asia’s website….

Mystery still surrounds the earliest film ever made in China – recently discovered in a shop basement in the north of England. Young men in mandarin attire laugh and joke as they glance at the camera, eyeballing the 21st century viewer from the time of the Qing Dynasty.  Since those gentlemen were recorded on celluloid, China has experienced nearly 120 years of momentous change.

These first fleeting images are part of a unique collection of early films at the British Film Institute (BFI), covering every facet of Chinese life from the time of the Boxer Rebellion to the Communist victory in 1949.  

With unique access to the BFI National Archive, this 2-part documentary shows films never seen before this outside the UK. The best of these extraordinary images are worked into a compelling narrative to reveal new insights into this period of tremendous change and turmoil in China. Voiced by renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle, the films capture a pre-CCP China in vivid motion.  

Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/video-on-demand/china-on-film

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One Comment on “China on Film – A Feast for Lovers of Old China Footage”

  1. 1 Tess Johnston said at 10:33 pm on January 11th, 2018:

    Keep it up– looks fascinating!

    Awaiting my book draft from Graham, launch to be at Lit Fest in March. Will you be there?

    Hopefully, Tess

    P.S. It’s A WAR AWAY — An American Woman in Vietnam, 1967-74


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