CHUNG KUO – CHINA
1972, Rai Teche, 215 min, Italy, Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni

Rarely screened in its complete form, CHUNG KUO – CHINA is a fascinating foray into the heart of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. Originally invited to make a piece of propaganda, Antonioni took advantage of his unprecedented access and shot nearly 100 hours of travel footage across three regions in China to create this grand-scale documentary. Although Antonioni’s subtle observational style was far too unfocused to earn the Communist government’s approval (leading to widespread efforts to halt the film’s distribution), his lively interest in his subjects can be felt in every frame. A collage of human faces and very little dialogue, the film is an immersive travelogue and perhaps the best of his documentaries.


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