[Marxism] Yang Ban Xi

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Mar 28 10:18:03 MST 2006

Opening at NYC's Film Forum on Wednesday, March 29, "Yang Ban Xi: The Eight 
Model Works" takes a fresh look at the "model opera" of the Cultural 
Revolution. Drawing upon interviews from both the aging participants and 
younger devotees of the genre, as well as excerpts from films based on the 
eight most famous works such as "Red Women's Detachment," it clearly 
demonstrates a kind of "Ostalgie" for China's revolutionary past. Since the 
top leadership of the Communist Party is now at least paying lip-service to 
their Maoist roots and calling for a halt to capitalist excess, it should 
not come as a surprise that the once-reviled Maoist culture is also being 
reevaluated in a more positive light.

Director Yan Ting Yuen was born in Hong Kong and moved to Europe with her 
family at the age of five. Her point of view is obviously ambivalent. 
Despite a clear, postmodernist distrust of propagandizing, she cannot help 
but make the case for works that defy her own sensibility. This tension 
makes for a riveting documentary.

The power of the model operas is undeniable. No matter how stilted the 
propaganda that comes out of the mouths of the singers, it has the same 
sort of raw power as some of Shostakovich's more explicitly political 
works. His oratorio "Song of the Forest" is an obvious inspiration for the 
Chinese socialist operas. Using upbeat harmonies in major keys and simple 
rhythms, such works can appeal to a mass audience in a way that more 
cerebral works cannot. The music and dance are wedded perfectly to themes 
involving virtuous peasants struggling collectively against evil landlords 
and fascists.

full: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2006/03/28/yang-ban-xi/



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