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CCTV epic "Advance Towards the Republic"


Ian_Lee
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Has anybody watched the above TV drama which is now banned?

The epic depicts the historical events dating from 1894 to 1924 and concentrated on the life of Empress Dowager, Li Hung Chang, Yuan Shih Kai and Sun Yat Sen.

The drama stirred an uproar after the first run on TV because it portrayed Li Hung Chang as a patriot in lieu of a traitor.

I heard that a lengthy scene of Sun Yat Sen making speech about citizen's rights was cut out in the last episode.

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Banned? Are you sure. Months ago, writers here in HK raved about the series in the newspapers so much that I bought the DVD set. But then I had to travel and have been anyway hesitant to start watching it (59 one-hour episodes, man). But people do say that it is very good.

Perhaps I should begin to watch it.

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北京观察家说,由于引起社会的强烈反应,重新解释晚清历史的电视片

《走向共和》已遭到禁播。作为《走向共和》的总监制,仕途因而受阻。

What kind of strong reactions? What new interpretations? Ian please tell me. I am too lazy even to watch TV.

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北京观察家说,由于引起社会的强烈反应,重新解释晚清历史的电视片

《走向共和》已遭到禁播。作为《走向共和》的总监制,仕途因而受阻。

What kind of strong reactions? What new interpretations? Ian please tell me. I am too lazy even to watch TV.

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The problem with the "Advance Towards the Republic" is that "It depicts past event to make an analogy with the current political events".

Actually this is the normal way adopted by CCTV. In the past, they keep making epic like "Emperor Kang Hsi", "The Reign of Yung Ching", "Princess Hanzhu"....etc.

Why was CCTV so interested in making those "pigtail" drama?

It was because by glorifying those STABLE periods (albeit culturally suffocating), CCP implied that they were born-again Yung Ching and Kang Hsi and wished people become docile as the Qing subjects after watching these drama.

In the drama "Reign of Yung Ching", the director even "diluted" Yung Ching's role in the notorious case of "Chinese Character Prison".

But in the "Advance Towards the Republic", the director and producer are working against the tone of the CCP Propaganda Department.

Li Hung Chang, who was stereotyped by CCP as traitor, became a patriot in this movie (surprisingly quite conforming to the reality).

Sun Yat Sen spoke about citizens' rights, San Min Zhu I and corrupt officials constantly in almost episode.

So how could it escape the ban? I only wonder why it was banned so late!

Read Cheng Ming magazine which there was a story about it (Oct '03)(There is only some briefing in the website):

http://www.chengmingmag.com/cm312/312toc/312toc.html

Actually there is another interesting CCTV epic "Taiping Kingdom" which was held up for months during the Falun Gong period.

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Taiping Kingdom was broadcast in HK some time ago. Since the costume and the actors were not attractive (actually they looked quite shabby), I was not interested. :P

From what you describe, I think the portrayal of 李鴻章 might not be that wrong actually. Wasn't it Cixi and the corrupted officials who brought down the empire?

I will try the first episode tonight.

BTW, if you want to see people practise Falun Gong, you can come to HK. There are always some around the Star Ferry.

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  • 2 months later...

I just want to report that the drama is great. I am half way thru it now (it has 60 episodes and I have finished like the 32rd). Some of the scenes like 甲午戰爭 are less than ideal (probably due to the budget), but the script, casting and acting are superb.

The portrayal of some of the main characters is quite unusual. Like Cixi actually cares about the country (but her selfishness keeps her from bringing real changes to the government). And the 袁世凱 character is really very cute+++ (this has to do with the actor).

As to the banning, actually I bought a set of DVD for my boss in Guangzhou. The shopkeepers said that it was only banned on TV. (BTW, that DVD set has English subtitles. When the actors shout 我支持你!!, the subtitle says "I espouse you!!" (sounds kind of funny).)

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The 走向共和 that I bought was pirated VCD. It only got 38 disc but the visual effect is very good (except 2 disc). It was bought for under HK$100 in the Shenzhen video shop under broad daylight.

(How come those shops have the gut to display pirated copies of CCTV product under broad daylight in main boulevard?)

It was also uncut since Sun's speech about citizen's rights remain intact at the end of the episode.

Compared with the epic movie "Sun Yat Sen" produced by Mainland studio in the '80s, the current drama is more vivid and more humanized. Sun Yat Sen even danced Waltz with the wife of Yuan Shih Kai and sang Cantonese opera in the party.

Actually the most successful figure portrayed in the drama was Kang Yu-Wei.

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Is that Cantonese? I don't know what that Sun Yat-sen character sings. I think it sounds like 南音. And the way he is always humming songs reminds me of the character played by Ralph Finnes in the "English Patient".

I will check if my set has that speech.

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  • 2 weeks later...
It was also uncut since Sun's speech about citizen's rights remain intact at the end of the episode.

Finally I have finished the whole series. By speech did you mean the one explaining the design of 中山裝? My set has it, at the very last. It is quite interesting, three buttons on the right cuff meaning 自由, 平等, 博愛, and the three on the left meaning 民主, 民生, 民權. The five pockets mean 行政權, 立法權, 司法權, 考試權 (!?), 彈劾權.

But I find the ending quite unsatisfying. There are loose ends everywhere and the country is on the brink of wars. And, oops, the story ends. :roll:

I like it when 袁世凱 wails how people like "him" and don't like himself, who runs the country for them, feeds them and puts money in their pockets. Recently I read in a newspaper column that Sun Yat-sen is regarded as the No. 1 hero by HKers (re another of your posts) probably because of this hit drama series and the fact that he kept failing but never gave up (革命尚未成功, 同志仍須努力). People do like dreamers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's not banned.. Just taken off from CCTV. You can buy the whole set, including the last episodes, in broad daylight in Shanghai for 80 yuan. Basically, if you watch it, you sense that Jiang Zemin is a modern version of Li Hongzhang, conservative yet very open-minded and West-leaning. I agree that he is. Unfortunately, Hu Jintao has a problem with that, Hu would rather see Li Hongzhang as having selled out China to foreign powers.

China axes TV series to placate President

BEIJING, June 26: China has pulled the plug on a popular television series set almost a century ago because it upset President Hu Jintao, Communist Party and television industry sources said today.

Hu, struggling to emerge from the shadow of his predecessor Jiang Zemin, was worried the portrayal of court politics in the series "Marching Towards the Republic" may be seen as an allegory justifying Jiang’s powerful role behind the scenes, they said.

Plans for a rerun of the 59-part drama on state-owned CCTV and to show it on provincial networks were axed because it portrayed Dowager Empress Cixi (1835-1908) in a favourable light, said the sources, familiar with the decision to axe the drama.

"Hu was unhappy," a Communist Party official who asked not to be identified said.

"Hu’s written instructions were that ‘Marching Towards the Republic’ did not conform with historical truth and ran counter to history’s final verdict on Cixi," the official said.

"Hu was worried people would think it was necessary and even good for Jiang to rule from behind the curtain and that the boy emperor was incompetent," the official added.

Cixi is one of the most reviled figures in Chinese history for ruling as regent, jailing a reform-minded emperor and using money intended for modernising the navy to build a new summer palace after French and British troops torched the old one.

Some political analysts have likened Hu to a boy emperor because even though he became Communist Party chief last November and State President in March, Jiang still wields influence and power — as a regent would have done with a boy emperor. Jiang, still head of the powerful military, has been compared by some to Cixi, who was humanised in the series in stark contrast with her notorious image as a power-hungry woman who would stop at nothing to have her way.

"She was beautified in the series. Her mistakes were blamed on Government officials who hid the truth from her. It reversed the official verdict on Cixi," said Liu Xiaobo, a literary critic and dissident.

"Marching Towards the Republic" was set in the waning days of China’s last dynasty, Qing (1644-1911) and the early years of the Republic, which the Communists overthrew in 1949.

The series also revised textbook descriptions of other giants of the era — warlord-turned-president Yuan Shikai (1859-1916) and diplomat Li Hongzhang (1823-1901), accused of selling out China to foreign powers.

The series, which cost about 40 million Yuan, was a big hit and shown on CCTV’s main channel in April when people stayed home at the height of the SARS outbreak.

CCTV accelerated the series by showing three episodes a day and censors cut scenes in which Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925), who founded the Republic, championed democracy lest viewers wonder why multi-party politics and a democratic parliament were possible in those days but not now.

"It sparked a lot of debate about democracy on the internet," said Liu, jailed for 20 months for staging a hunger strike in support of student-led demonstrations for democracy in 1989 that were crushed by the army with heavy loss of life. (AGENCIES)

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80 RMB?? This is so unfair. I bought my first set (DVD) for 180HKD in HK and the next for 180 RMB in Guangzhou. Tell me, what else could I buy for 80 RMB in Shanghai, as I will be going there next month.

Television is a very powerful medium. People could be heavily influenced by a strong drama like this (you can't deny that it is good) and would be confused not knowing which is the 'truer' version (history is what historians make it). But I think not showing it is giving it undue importance.

Anyway, I find it strange that CCTV was allowed to make it and then not allowed to air it. What a waste of money.

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You can get a lot of 'banned' stuff very easily on DVD. I overheard a couple of 'policemen' (I'm not sure what they really are, look about 17 years old, army-officer type uniforms which don't fit and really daft plastic 'stop' signs to hold up if they need to stop traffic. Not 警察. ) talking to a pirate DVD seller on the street today, telling him he was allowed to sell blockbusters, but nothing about the Falungong. The seller seemed very amused by it, and if he'd been even vaguely scared of them he'd have run, as they do when the real 警察 turn up.

ran counter to history’s final verdict

What, is there a court that decides on historical truth? Does Empress Cixi have a right to appeal to a higher court? Have they decided who shot JFK?

Roddy

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It's said that the former minister of 'culture' was a manchurian, so

during his period, cctv generated many 'pigtail' dramas which all

praise Qing dynasty, well, he's smart anyway 'cause he could find

some shining points which could let ccp feel happy. :-))

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Actually Empress Dowager Cixi was not portrayed in that a positive light in the drama.

One of the episodes narrated the events on the eve of the Sino-Japanese War in 1894. Emperor Meiji refused to eat anything more than a couple of riceballs and saved the meal expenses for the Japanese battleship that was under construction in England's shipyard even though many court officials like Ito Hirobumi appealed him not to do so.

On the other hand, Cixi faced a whole dining table with dozens dishes and still didn't know what to eat even though the military was short-budgeted.

Such contrast was apparently used by the director to stigmatize Cixi.

Of course, in some other scenes, Cixi was portrayed to be passionate. But that is it.

Li Hong Zhang was portrayed in a more positive light. But the drama also narrated how the staff in his elite Huai Army were extremely corrupted.

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  • 3 months later...

I've just finished watching the whole series.

great acting and a very well made drama.

体现了中国人的智慧与聪明反被聪明误的无奈。

Also, in the end it says, "中国共产党...领导中国人民建立了人民民主的真正共和国。" I think 他们觉得说这句话有愧,所以就ban了。

it has almost been a hundred years, 专制 is still 根深蒂固。

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