|Though I am Gone|
|Mandarin||Wǒ suī sǐqù|
|Directed by||Hu Jie|
|Written by||Hu Jie|
|Music by||In the Taihang Mountains|
Though I Am Gone (Wo sui siqu (我虽死去)) is a Chinese documentary film by Hu Jie about Bian Zhongyun, the vice principal of the Girls Middle School Attached to Beijing Normal University , who was beaten to death by her students in August 1966 during China's Cultural Revolution.
The film includes the commentary and photographs taken by the deceased woman's husband, "Wang Qingyao, an 85 year-old, and a scholar of the Modern History Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences". The film is banned in China, where the Communist Party reacted sensitively to the film because "many of the former members of the Red Guard who attended Bian's middle school were members of the families of high-ranking officials that are still revered today."
The director provides the hidden perspectives of the experiences and memories that are buried deeply within normal Chinese citizens during the Maoist periods and the Cultural Revolution through the use of personal and subjective records. The film also illustrates the scale of the terror that was unleashed by listing the 201 names on the screen at the end of film, in a four-minute incomplete roll call of the teachers that were killed in Beijing, China during the August 1966 Cultural Revolution. The list of names act as a reminder to the audience about the wrongful murderous killings by the Red Guards that was encouraged and permitted by Mao during the movement and also to pay respect to those who have tragically died in the violent revolution.
The title of the film is derived from a poem in Doctor Zhivago (1957) that was written by the Russian author, Boris Pasternak (1890 - 1960).The last two excepts of Gethsemane's Garden from The Poems of Doctor Zhivago as translated by Christopher Barns:
To suffer and descend into the grave.
And from the grave on the third day I'll rise.
Then, like a fleet of barges down the stream,
The centuries will float forth from the night
And make their way before my judgment seat.
The mass student led paramilitary social movement was initiated, mobilized, and guided by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1966 and 1967. The purpose of launching the "Great Revolution" is to prevent the restoration of capitalism, to maintain the purity of the party, and to determine China's own path in the construction of a socialistic country.
University, high school, and middle school students took the leading roles in the development of the "revisionist opposition". In a short period of time, the Red Guards that were established by students swarmed into the schools, wrestled with school staffs, and even some government locations were affected. The movement spread from within the party to the entire country and shortly after, the members of the society began to worry.
The shooting of the film uses the combination of black and white shots and also colour shots. Through the interviewers' narration and perspective, the film gradually uncovers the real events that occurred in the Cultural Revolution at that time. The cinematography technique also objectively reveals the emotions of the autobiographical nature through the narrator's perspective and vision.
The most important interview is Wang Junyao's subjective experience of his wife's death. He did not witness the process of his wife's death, but we can feel the helplessness and sadness that Wang Junyao felt through the lens of his responses. What the interviewer can do is to record the feelings and the experience of the interviewees truthfully.
"One of the Cultural Revolution's most shocking and perplexing cases. We can only imagine how difficult it is for Hu to produce his films; only a committed person who takes what he does as a 'calling' can persist." — Dr. Weili Yu, Yale University, in the journal Asian Educational Media Service
"Though none of his works have been publicly shown in China, Hu Jie is one of his country's most noteworthy filmmakers." — The New York Review of Books
"A profoundly moving memorial to the victims of Mao's senseless political violence." — ReelTime Arts
"Packs a powerful punch in just over an hour...Director Hue Jie exploys a collage-like approach, interspersing archival footage and propaganda songs with present day interviews with Wang and other survivors of this tragic period of history." — Twitch Film
"Though I Am Gone challenges the authorities; the mainland may have sanctioned other films which broach the so-called '10 years of catastrophe' but Hu's film is still banned." — South China Morning Post
"Hu Jie's body of work puts a human face on some of the worst horrors of the Communist Party's recent history." — Public Radio International
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Chairman Mao has defined our future as an armed revolutionary youth organization.... So if Chairman Mao is our Red-Commander-in-Chief and we are his Red Guards, who can stop us? First we will make China Maoist from inside out and then we will help the working people of other countries make the world red...and then the whole universe.
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