Shows leader as a tourist

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - ByWANG KAI­HAO wangkai­hao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Though the late Chi­nese leader Deng Xiaop­ing (190497) has been por­trayed on big screens many times as a leg­end, a re­cent film on him chooses a side­ways an­gle and tries to show some­thing be­yond the stereo­types.

This fresh view, seen in a na­tion­wide re­lease last week, is the im­age of a per­se­ver­ing tourist rather than a re­source­ful po­lit­i­cal leader. Deng’s Climb de­picts his four-day trip in July 1979 to Mount Huang­shan, a cel­e­brated scenic area in East China’s An­hui prov­ince.

“I am shoot­ing not a great per­son, but an old man,” says direc­tor Chen Guox­ing, who is known for his main­stream bi­o­graph­ics and his­tor­i­cal dra­mas.

“It’s a great chal­lenge for mebe­cause I have to de­velop an ap­peal­ing film from a story far away from to­day’s young gen­er­a­tion that does not have very strong dra­matic con­flicts.”

Nev­er­the­less, some pub­licly re­leased pic­tures record­ing that trip in­clude Deng with sev­eral col­lege stu­dents — China’s col­lege en­trance exam had only re­sumed two years be­fore, fol­low­ing a 11-year hia­tus — from Fu­dan Uni­ver­sity, and a chance en­counter with mem­bers of a Hong Kong mar­tial-arts film pro­duc­tion unit. Dengis also shown busily sign­ing au­to­graphs for tourists.

Th­ese re­flect Chi­nese so­ci­ety’s sub­tle changes at the time and pro­vide the direc­tor with el­e­ments to draw a big pic­ture.

“We’ve got­ten used to see­ing Deng as a se­ri­ous de­ci­sion-maker when the coun­try was at a cross­road,” Chen ex­plains.

“But, this time, we wanted to use a warm tone to re­flect China’s cru­cial is­sues through his in­ter­ac­tion with or­di­nary peo­ple.”

Many con­tro­ver­sial is­sues stir­ring China at the time, such as the re­form of the ru­ral “house­hold re­spon­si­bil­ity sys­tem” and the sta­tus

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