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A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution (1966–1976) [8] The Harbor

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.

 

《海港》The Harbor

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 piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution (1966–1976) [8] The Harbor

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.

A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution (1966–1976) [8] The Harbor

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.

A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution (1966–1976) [8] The Harbor

-END-

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!

 

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4 Responses to “A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution (1966–1976) [8] The Harbor”

  1. nothing

    白睿:

    09-13-2012 2:26 pm

    Hi Grace, 我想问一下,当时中国老百姓在哪里能看到这些歌剧?那时候每座城市里面到底有多剧场呢?好几个吗?当时的老百姓各自有一台电视机吗?或是在一个公共场所看到的?
    我喜欢你写这些博客,关于历史、文化、因为我可以加深我的智力。依我看在学习一个语言过程中你不能把语言和文化分成两个不同的事情。中国的历史和文化都有密切的关系。

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      09-13-2012 11:53 pm

      白睿,

      你问的问题很有意思。:-)

      在文革的时候,中国老百姓还没有电视。样板戏的演出主要是三种形式: 一种是在舞台上真人表演的舞台剧(opera),一种是电影(movie), 一种是广播电台(radio)。

      因为那个时期中国基本没有商业存在,一切都是公有,所以看这些演出是不用买票的。一般是单位(organization that you work for)发票给你让你去看,或者直接在单位里放映电影给大家看。

      各个地区的艺术团体也会排练这些样板戏为当地的人民表演。

      现在的中国就不一样了,电影票贵得不得了。:-)))

      Grace

      Reply

  2. nothing

    白睿:

    09-14-2012 12:12 pm

    Grace,你回答得我的问题很详细的,谢谢。中国当时社会和现在的,特别是那些住在城市里的人,好像大大不一样:他们那边真在走着一条资本主义的路!我就恐怕没有人会知道目的地在哪里。

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      09-14-2012 4:34 pm

      没错,”那个道路”是会经历从疯狂到理性的过程, 然后是周期性的阵痛。中国正在以中国的方式经历西方曾经历的过程。一边经历,一边学习,一边改善。毕竟, 东方和西方的历史和文化太不一样了。
      我认为中国理想的目的地应该是最终达到国泰民安,为世界经济和民生做好的贡献。不过我的想法大概太天真了, 呵呵。。。

      Reply

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