Posted by Grace Feng on September 11, 2012
The Chinese Culture Revolution is a very special period of Chinese history in which the Gang of Four dictated almost every aspect of people’s life. During the Revolution, nothing is allowed in theatres except 8 model dramas (样板戏 yàng bǎn xì ) that were personally approved by Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife, also the leader of the Gang of Four.
It is hard to watch the 8 model dramas today since the roles in the play were depicted so “unreal and unnatural”. Good characters move between heroic poses that keep reminding me of a puppet, instead of a real person. Bad characters are purposely uglified to show how miserable and pathetic they are. The story itself might not be a bad one. But with all these deliberately set up “stereotype performance”, the play is full of weird taste.
History is history. 10 years of Culture Revolution was a tragedy of a nation that China can never forget. It has always been a heavy topic to talk about even after so many years.
In this series of post, I will collect the stories and images of all 8 model dramas and translate the story into English. They might can help my readers to have a peek into that period of Chinese history.
On the harbor, bags of wheat seeds were ready to be loaded onto the ship and be sent to abroad as international aid; The young worker 韩小强 Xiaoqiang Han was working absent-minded. As a result, he misplaced some bags.
A hidden “enemy of the people” 钱守维 Shouwei Qian, grabbed the chance to add glass fibre into the bags of wheat seeds. He also lured Han to swap a wheat seeds bag with the wheat bag. His intention was to diminish China’s international reputation by doing this.
The leader of the local Party 方海珍 Haizhen Fang discovered the incident. She then organized people to investigate the root cause.
She gathered all the workers to check through bags overnight. It gave pressure to Qian to give away clues. She was also able to persuade and educate Han to reveal all the crimes that Qian had done.
Finally the enemy of the people was captured and the harbor workers completed their tasks on international aid successfully.
This drama had been critized as being way too political. The creation of this drama was actually supervised directly by the leader of the Gang of Four. Well, it is clear that all 8 model dramas were either created or promoted during Culture Revolution. They all shared the same “political style”. But this one was almost a pure political product.
This post concludes my whole series of “A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution (1966–1976)“. You can skip this series if you’re not interested in the history but only want to learn Chinese language on this blog. For those that had the patience and even interest to read through this piece of history, I’d recommend you to get familiar with the titles of these dramas. Why? Almost all Chinese that were born in the early stage of or before 60’s know these names by heart. Those names filled up a ten year span of their life regardless.
Any comments are welcomed. Anything interesting to share, be my guest. Thanks!
Category: Chinese culture and history
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