Yowake No Kuni (1967)

Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Clarke Fountain

Despite the fact that the filming of this documentary represents a diplomatic triumph, going into regions of China which had until then been closed to outsiders, the filmmakers were still forced to shoot and celebrate what Mao Tse Tung's government wanted them to shoot. In this case, the film crews were shown (among other similar offerings) a fertilizer plant, an open-pit coal mine, an iron foundry, and the Harbin Happiness People's Commune. Material progress is celebrated on every hand in this relentlessly upbeat look at the happy citizens of China, who at the very time the film was being made were suffering the ravages of the Cultural Revolution -- an attempt to uproot and destroy the few remaining remnants of China's once-great cultural heritage. Having a foreign film-crew come in and work under supervision this close was possibly the cheapest way for the Chinese government to manufacture propaganda. Whatever the reasoning of the Japanese filmmakers about their journalistic responsibilities, the resulting film is exactly that: Chinese government propaganda.