Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
China has not grown less mysterious over the years, but interest in it waxes and wanes. When this documentary was made (1976), interest was at a peak. The filmmakers recorded many aspects of everyday life at the height of a period of rigid economic, social and political control. The twelve-hour-long film's six segments are: "The Pharmacy," which reviews health care as well as the pharmacy business; "The Taking," about a new town created in 1960; "A Woman, A Family," about a woman boss who must also handle her domestic chores; "Fishing Village" concerns a fishing enterprise largely run by women; "The Generator Factory" interviews workers who seem to have considerable say in how their factory is run; and "The Barracks" promotes the democratic qualities present in the Red Army lifestyle. All the films present upbeat, cheerful people going about their ordinary lives with considerable satisfaction. The general theme appears to be that conditions before the communist takeover were horrible, and that things are much better now.