State-told tales court big screen success

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 June, 2011, 12:00am


There may be no nobler political endeavour than founding a nation. And modern China is the rare country that has done it twice; first as a republic, then as a communist state.

Each struggle had its own heroes, villains and drama - ingredients dear to the hearts of scriptwriters and movie producers everywhere.

Sure enough, each of these complicated chapters of Chinese history is getting its own commemoration at the multiplex.

First was 2009's The Founding of a Republic, which marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Now comes The Founding of a Party, reaching even further back to the events of 1921. Like its predecessor, it packs an all-star cast.

The propaganda piece is not only critic-proof. It is bound to be a blockbuster. Authorities set a June 15 premiere and pushed back the sure-fire successes Transformers 3 and Cars 2 from mainland theatre schedules to make room for their offering - and to remove the competition.

They have done this trick before. Last year they cut short bookings of the wildly successful Avatar to make way for the home-grown Confucius. Disgruntled sci-fi fans speculated that the government wanted to silence a movie that some Chinese bloggers saw as an allegory for oppressive house demolitions. It was more likely a business decision, with the government protecting a domestic product.

With this new movie's rollout, the Communist Party shows it knows how to glorify itself, shove a message down an audience's throat and enlarge its profits - all at once.

Two revolutions, countless martyrs, and it comes down to this: To guarantee a rich box office is glorious.