CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

"Up the Yangtze" is no slow boat to China

On 8/8/08, the Olympics will begin when China opens it’s doors to the rest of the world. Once considered the forbidden land, China has been more open with international relations since Richard Nixon visited the country in 1972. When the Olympics conclude three weeks later, China will be forever changed. We are reminded that the only constant in the universe is change. Yet change always seems so surprising.

**Up the Yangtze** is a superb documentary that addresses how one environmental change affects the cultural impact upon many individuals. Considered a symbol of the Chinese economic revitalization, the Three Gorges Dam is the biggest hydroelectric dam in history. As the river water is redirected, former villages on the bank of the river became submerged. This documentary is told from the point of view of two Chinese individuals, who are given English deck names, Cindy and Jerry.

Cindy is sent to work by her peasant family, whose home is on the verge of relocation from the encroaching flood waters. She is a farmer's daughter who works on a ship that cruises up the Yangtze River. Cindy works below deck as a dishwasher. Given her lack of sophistication and questionable hygiene, Cindy seems doomed to failure in her new career.

In direct contrast, Jerry is far more educated. He works for tips on the upper deck, learns certain English phrases and flirts with eye contact. Jerry is also incredibly self centered and his favor topic of conversation is Jerry. While Jerry makes a good impression, his egotism becomes his Achilles Heal in the customer service profession.

Despite Cindy and Jerry's micro perspective, "Up the Yangtze" tells a story with worldly resonance. Cindy's plight is reminiscent of the Okies who moved to California from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. The digital cinematography is colorful and captures a land that is now underwater. Filmed in digital photography, this independent film will spoil viewers who will later witness the China presented by the National Broadcasting Company this summer. **Up the Yangtze** presents the big picture from the human perspective.
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