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Censorship in China - Part 4: The Eight Hundred

Hu Guan's Elaborate War Spectacle Loses Against Censorship

Guan Hus's expensive war drama The Eight Hundred shows how Chinese soldiers tried to stop the Japanese invaders in Shanghai in 1937. The prestige project was supposed to open the Shanghai Film Festival, but was withdrawn shortly before due to alleged technical difficulties. "Technical difficulties" is often only a code for intervention by the Chinese censorship authority.

A short time later, reports surfaced that the China Red Culture Research Assn. was responsible for the withdrawal. Several sources say that this group, which is very close to the Communist Party of China, criticized the film for not depicting members of the Republic of China, with which the CPC was in civil war at the time, in a sufficiently negative manner. And this is unacceptable on the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People's Republic of China by the CPC.

VP of the Group: “It would be very inappropriate to use The Eight Hundred as a tribute to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China

Secretary General: “The class oppression within the ranks of the Kuomintang army, the misdeeds of its officers and its evil oppression of the people have disappeared without a trace, making it seem that the Kuomintang army was the real people’s army. […] The seriousness of the problem has gone far beyond the scope of literature and art; it is a reversal of history, and misleads the audience. If left unchecked, it will certainly deprive the entire Communist Party of its historical basis. Once the Party’s leadership is lost, the Chinese nation is bound to fall into the deep, miserable abyss of colonized and semi-colonized countries.

It is apparently the only goal of the research group to ensure that the CPC alone and nobody in the Republic of China is responsible for the heroic deeds of that time and that the Republic of China must always be portrayed as bad in order to protect the Communist Party in any film. A critical discussion is obviously not desired here. A sentimental scene towards the end, where a flag of the Republic of China can be seen and soldiers who want to protect it, seems to be particularly problematic. Such a scene would insult the citizens of the People's Republic of China. There is no clear evidence that the research group is responsible for the censorship, but the propaganda department, which is now responsible for the censorship in the country, certainly does not see it differently.

A short time later, the official theatrical release in ordinary cinemas was cancelled, as well. There is no real justification, only the announcement that after consultations between the production company and "other entitites", which is supposed to be the censorship department of the Communist Party, the decision was made. Whether and when the film will be shown in cinemas is therefore unclear.

Interestingly, the film has already been sold abroad, including to Germany and the US. However, it is not certain that it will be released here.

Release: Aug 11, 2019 - Author: sausagemoo81 - Translator: Mike Lowrey

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