My first ever attempt at a DVD review that has nothing at all to do with wrestling. Maybe you will read this and check out the movie yourselves. UP THE YANGTZE (2007 Documentary)By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.
Imagine if the USA decided to flood the Grand Canyon to create one big lake. This is what has been happening in China with the construction of the Three Gorges Dam hydroelectric project, the largest of its kind in the world. First started in 1994, the project will be completed and fully operational by 2011 amid the upheaval of more than 2 million Chinese living along the famous and beautiful Yangtze River, the world's third largest river after the Nile in Africa and the Amazon in South America. One-third of China's population lives along the Yangtze.
Chinese-Canadian documentary filmmaker Yung Chang's award-winning Up the Yangtze paints a very human picture of what the Chinese government considers an economic miracle, the Three Gorges Dam. The film centres around two teenagers as they move on from their daily lives to work on what is billed as a luxury cruise ship, taking Westerners on a "farewell cruise" down the Yangtze before the dam closes and flood waters wash away everything in sight. Yu Shui is a petite 16-year old living with her parents on their tiny riverside farm where planting vegetables and fishing sustained their livelihood where money could not. Yu Shui tells her parents over dinner that she has dreams of going to high school so she will be educated and talented because that is what the new China is demanding, but her parents cannot afford to continue her education and put their eldest daughter's plans on hold. Yu Shui is sent off to work on the cruise ship, reluctantly leaving her family behind. The other teenager is a 19-year old man named Chen Bo Yu, who is a cocky pretty boy, and the son of a local official, with aspirations of making more money working on the ship than his parents make at their own jobs. The final night before leaving for the boat presents opposite ends of the spectrum as Chen Bo Yu celebrates with friends, bragging that he was hired due to his good looks and decent command of English. Meanwhile, Yu Shui is at home angrily lashing out at her parents, who tearfully try to explain that they have no choice but to "exploit" their eldest daughter.
Life working on the "farewell cruise" comes with a price as both Yu Shui and Chen Bo Yu are immediately given English names - "Cindy" and "Jerry." Cindy is miserable, sad, homesick and experiencing quite a culture shock going from peasant poverty on the farm to a corporate business environment catering to wealthy Western tourists where the staff are briefed on what to say and what not to say to the guests. Meanwhile, Cindy's parents are doing all they can to get ready for their relocation from the farm before the flood waters move in. There is something very depressing, heartbreaking and somewhat sickening about locals from along the river working on the luxury ship on its "farewell cruise" taking tourists on a trip to "wave goodbye" to pristine and beautiful ancient lands their families live on and are now being forced to abandon. Jerry is cocky, arrogant and from a middle-class upbringing. He seems eager to shed his lifestyle and become a successful money-making businessman. Two teenagers from two different backgrounds. One story turns out positive and the other negative.
The cinematography is incredible and the dreary dullness paints a rather eerie and haunting picture. The flood waters are visibly rising as the story unfolds while ominous warning signs along the river indicate how high the waters of progress are expected to rise when the time comes (175 metres, for example). We see the agents of propaganda proudly showing off the nice new apartments for the relocated villagers though most will not be able to afford them due to being so poor. There are hints of government corruption and villagers not receiving the money they were promised for assistance during the relocation period. The Yangtze River is not only famous, but it is also truly beautiful, mystical and full of rich history spanning China's entire existence. Sun Yat-sen first proposed a hydroelectric project at Three Gorges in 1919, and Mao Zedong revived the idea in the 1950s. Legend has it that Chairman Mao himself used to swim in the river.
One thing that truly stands out about this particular film is the fact that Yung Chang did not editorialize at all, instead leaving judgment as to whether the project is good or bad up to each individual viewer. As the film comes to a close, the viewer is left with dramatic scenes that won't soon be forgotten, but there's no need to spoil that here. The DVD set comes with several extras, including deleted scenes that run almost like short films, as well as a demo reel from 2006, which features one village's resistance to government attempts to rid them of their land. They also share a special heartfelt message for all the world to see. Up the Yangtze is a beautifully shot yet haunting cinematic experience that gives the viewer a glimpse of the China rarely seen in Western countries at a time of such rapid modernization. The old China is submerged and a new China comes to life. Sacrifice and progress. Whether this is a good or bad thing in the short and long term is a question that will be answered in the years to come.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2otEv7MI0Dw