MOVING THE MOUNTAIN (1994)

 

 

 

Director:     Michael Apted.

Starring:    Jin-Ming Zhang (Li Lu, 10 year old), Yi-Ming Huang (Li Lu, 4 year old), Yi-fen Kan (Earthquake Survivor), Ke-Hsi Hsiang (Lover, Male), Tsung-cheng Hou (Little Six), Hsiang-tan Tang (Storyteller), Hing Man Tang (Police, Road Inspection), Fong Yin Chan (Driver of car escort), Hui Lung Sze (Secret Police in car escort), Siu-Kei Lee (Secret Police in car escort), Chun Fai Tsang (Gide in smuggler village).

 massacre at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, May 1989

 

 

This is a film told of the Tiananmen Square massacre in May 1989. The "mountain" is the Chinese communist authorities.  The story is told primarily by a group of student leader exiles that met in New York City in October 1993: Li Lu, Wang Chaohua, Wu'er Kaixi, and Chai Ling. It is a very sad tale, sad for China and sad for the victims, but also sad for the former student leaders. And one of the things that strike you about the group is how much guilt they feel. They were the leaders, people were massacred, blood all over the place, and yet they survive, and even thrive in the United States. Perhaps it is a mixture of survivor guilt and guilt at having been apart of something that failed with such a high cost in human life.

The main narrator is Li Lu. He tells of his story and how he came to be involved in the Tiananmen Square massacre. He himself was born during the Cultural Revolution and he tells of the times of the Cultural Revolution and the young Red Guards, a time of "a glorification of hatred" and "legitimizing murder." He himself was orphaned at a young age and then he lost most of his adoptive family in an earthquake.

A month after the earthquake, Mao died. Then came the Dong Shao Ping era. During this time in the people were given the opportunity to denounce the excesses of the CR on a public wall. But these criticisms went too far and became known as the Democracy Wall Movement. One of the spokespeople imprisoned for too harsh criticism was Wei Jingsheng, who was the first to spell out the importance of democracy for China.

In the 1980's there was an Open Door Policy and people were able to learn about western ideas. One of the supporters of student concerns in the Chinese power structure was forced out and soon after died. In a short while public mourners appeared in Tiananmen Square. It was this that built to the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

What became the Tiananmen Square Massacre started slowly. Wu'er organized the initial student demonstrations in Beijing. The Chinese leaders did not want to put down the student demon-strations in the square right away because Gorbachev of Russia was arriving for an official visit to China. This allowed the demonstrations to slowly gain speed. More and more students joined the demonstrations, then towns people joined in, and others flowed into Beijing to take part in the demonstrations.

The leaders came up with the idea of a hunger strike. The spokesperson was Chai Ling. Then the faculty of Beijing University started to become involved on the side of the students.

Some steam went out of the movement with the lack of accomplishments and because troops were called in. But they were not aggressive enough and many turned around without putting the demonstrations down. But many had left with the coming of the troops, so this caused the demonstrations to slowly gain momentum again. Foreign journalists by this time were all over the place, covering the demonstrations.

Too much attention was being paid to the student demonstrations that, by this time, were not only happening in Beijing but now in about 150 different towns and cities. This time the Chinese communist leaders decided to really put the revolt down with force. And they indeed did so -- the bloody bodies are proof enough of that.

Most of the protest leaders were arrested, but a few got away, to England, to Canada, and to the U.S. But the guilt over those days continues and many of the former student leaders are active still, working with the Chinese community abroad to promote political awareness of events in China. And some of the ex-leaders still grieve so excessively that they are not able to participate in politics at all.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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