Synopsis by Jason Buchanan
Director Yung Chang uses the construction of China's massive Three Gorges Dam as a springboard to better understanding the social hierarchies and changing times in his homeland in this documentary focusing on the luxury cruise ship that carries predominately Western tourists down the Yangtze River. Constructed as a symbol of modern progress in China, the Three Gorges Dam has forced millions of common people out of their ancestral homes, and will soon swallow up numerous nearby towns and villages. Despite the fact that the government has funded alterative housing for the dislocated families, however, many citizens make their way to higher ground feeling as if they have been duped by the powers that be. In order to truly understand how this affects the people, Chang focuses on telling the stories of middle-class scion Chen Bo Yu (renamed "Jerry" by the cruise line) and Yu Shui (who answers to the call of "Cindy" while on duty). As the ship sets sail, this hard-working pair do their best to familiarize themselves with Western social cues, striving to perform to the best of their abilities, and ponder the prospects of a brighter future.
China, cruise, dam, displaced-persons, modernization, river, social-change, tourist