Saturday, July 2, 2011

(CQ/CC)TV Imitates “Movie Night”

An example of my wife's movie posters

At the beginning of the year, for a few weeks, CQTV (Chongqing TV) was showing “Red Movies” almost in sync with my wife. (as if someone was watching us …) My wife even wrote an e-mail to CQTV to thank them for starting a “Red Movie” series. Her e-mail included some of the movies she had shown and had planned on showing, but CQTV never replied.


In any case, here’s the list of movies (26 so far) that my wife has shown on “Movie Night” (starting last year on Nov 26)



11/26 我们村里的年轻人 Our Village Youngsters (1963)

12/03 冰山上的来客 Visitors on Icy Mountain (1963)

12/10 林则徐 Lin ZeXu (1959)

12/17 战火中的青春 Youth in Battle (1959)

1/07 五朵金花 Five Golden Flowers (1959)

1/14 李双双 Li Shuang Shuang (1962)

1/21 闪闪的红星 Sparkling Red Star (1974)

2/18 林海雪原 Tracks in the Snowy Forest (1960)

2/25 槐树庄 Locust Tree Village (1962)

3/04 祖国的花朵 Flowers of Our Motherland (1955)

3/11 今天我休息 My Day Off (1959)

3/18 锦上添花 (“Icing on the Cake”) (1962)

3/25 霓虹灯下的哨兵 Sentinels Under Neon Lights (1964)

4/01 林家铺子 The Lin Family Shop (1959)

4/08 红色娘子军 The Red Detachment of Women (1961)

4/15 铁道游击队 Railway Guerrilla (1956)

4/22 祝福 Blessing (1956)

4/29 花好月圆 A Perfect Marriage (1958)

5/06 大浪淘沙 Gold and Sand (1966)

5/13 山间铃响马帮来 A Horse Caravan (1954)

5/20 春蚕 Silkworm (1933)

5/27 枯木逢春 Withered Trees Revive (1961)

6/03 地道战 Tunnel Warfare (1965)

6/10 古刹钟声 The Bell Rings from an Old Temple (1958)

6/17 换了人间 Our World is Different (1959)

6/24 天山的红花 Red Blossom of Tianshan Mountain (1964)

The list included movies based on novels/novellas/short stories by famous writers (Lu Xun’s “Blessing”, Mao Dun’s “Silkworm”). There was also a ballet (“The Red Detachment of Women”) which was also one of the 8 Model Plays / Revolutionary Operas (


There were movies about national heros (“林则徐 / Lin ZeXu”) and about an ordinary policeman’s Sunday (“今天我休息 / My Day Off”). There were movies that featured spies and traitors (“Tracks in the Snowy Forest,” “The Bell Rings from an Old Temple,” “A Horse Caravan”). There were movies about the farming collective (“李双双 / Li Shuang Shuang” and “天山的红花 / Red Blossom of Tianshan Mountain), about land reforms (“Locust Tree Village”), and about coal miners (“换了人间 / Our World is Different”). There were movies that featured ethnic minorities (“Five Golden Flowers” and “Red Blossom on Tianshan Mountain”). There was even a movie about the effort to get rid of schistosoma (血吸虫), a parasitic blood-sucking worm (“Withered Trees Revive”).


There are also many now famous songs in these movies (e.g., “Sparkling Red Star,” “Flowers of Our Motherland,” “Tunnel Warfare,” …) And quite a few movies formed the basis for recent TV serials (Visitors on Icy Mountain,” “Tunnel Warfare,” “A Horse Caravan,” …)


These movies were made by the major studios, Beijing Movie Studios (“The Lin Family Shop”), Changchun Movie Studios (“Visitors on Icy Mountain,” “Five Golden Flowers,” “Flowers of Our Motherland,” …), Haiyan Studios (“Li Shuang Shuang,” “My Day Off,” …), Tianma Studios (“Sentinels Under Neon Lights). Later Haiyan (literally Sea Swallow) and Tianma (Sky Horse) studios merged with other studios in Shanghai to become the present day Shanghai Movie Studios.


August First film opening

Quite a few movies were made by the August First (八一) Movie Studios (“Tracks in Snowy Forest,” “Tunnel Warfare,” …). August 1st, 1927, the date of the Nanchang uprising, is used to commemorate the establishment of the PLA.


"Tunnel Warfare" Movie Poster

Movies made by August First opens with a sparkling red star and to the tune of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army March 中国人民解放军军歌.Being part of the PLA, August First Studios made quite a few 军事教育片 (literally, “military education films”). The most famous of these popular “military education” films, “Tunnel Warfare,” or 地道战, has its basis in the series of tunnels in the villages in Hebei province.


Wok furnace as tunnel entrance

During the War Against Japan, these tunnels were part of a cat-and-mouse game between the villagers and the invading Japanese army. The tunnels, connecting many houses (and even neighboring villages), allowed the villagers to hide and retreat when the Japanese attacked. “Tunnel Warfare” showed that the villagers would disguise the entrances to the tunnels by using water well, wok furnace, and even mangers in the stables. The film also detailed the various intricacies and subtle features that allowed these tunnels to be gas-, fire-, and water-proof and made the Japanese advances difficult.


The week after the 6/03 showing of Tunnel Warfare, (almost on cue) CCTV News Channel had a news segment on Tunnel Warfare, featuring Bao Ding, one of the Hebei villages. Bao Ding now has a museum dedicated to the tunnels:


Miscellany and Afterthoughts.


Bo Xilai, the Chongqing party boss has been criticized for CQTV’s revival of Maoist movies



The recent surge of “Red Movies” on TV is to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CCP on July 1st.  Of course, I have no doubt that my wife is being “watched,” what with her associations with various leftist organizations…


Over the last week, CCTV showed “Visitor on Icy Mountain,” “The Red Detachment of Women” among other Red Movies. And last night, my wife showed “Landmine Warfare” (地雷战), the companion movie to “Tunnel Warfare.” (At long last, we got to learn how to set landmines…)


Surprisingly to me, the music of the PLA March“中国人民解放军军歌”was written by a Korean 郑律成 in 1939. Here is a version of the lyrics

























And if you want to sing along to the opening of August 1st Studio movies, you should start at the very last stanza, 同志们整齐步伐奔向解放的战场 …”unfortunately, I don’t have the time to redo the film openings with sing-along-bouncing balls …


Addendum 7/09/11. Thanks to JM for pointing out that it should be the "Nanchang uprising" or the "Nanchang rebellion" and not the "Nanchang revolution." 


All but one movie title translation were found online (baidu or elsewhere). Some of my choices would have been "Red Flowers on Tianshan" (shan is already mountain) and "Visitor on Snowy Mountain." In any case, I couldn't find a translation for the movie 锦上添花 and so used what I thought was the closest in meaning. The original Chinese idiom literally means to "add flowers on top of silk." In fact, is no ordinary silk. So adding (embroidering) flower patterns on top of an already extraordinary piece of silk seems to me to be adding "Icing on the Cake."

Finally, here is my translation (with my wife's help) of the last stanza of the PLA March:

Comrades march together towards the battlefield of liberation,

Comrades march together towards the frontiers of (our) motherland,

Onwards onwards!

Our troops stride towards the sun,

Towards the final victory,

Towards the liberation of our country!

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