This is a fascinating compilation of scenes showing diversity and disparity in 1940s China. The ancient Forbidden City and Great Wall are followed by Shanghai’s metropolitan skyline; primitive farming methods are juxtaposed with mechanised factories; children in rags are contrasted with models wearing the latest fashions; Nationalist commanders and Communist leaders vie for support.
The 38 years from the collapse of the last imperial dynasty in 1911 to the establishment of a Communist government in 1949 were arguably the most turbulent in Chinese history. The country was split both economically and politically. While cities along the eastern seaboard saw rapid growth, the western hinterland remained poor and undeveloped. Meanwhile, the nation was being torn apart by civil war and Japanese incursion. These thought-provoking scenes reveal the immense challenges that would face the People’s Republic when it was founded three years after the making of this film.