“So we did some exhaustive Googling, as all research is done now...”
April 22, 2018 12:31 AM   Subscribe

China on Film is a two-part documentary (1, 2) from Singapore's ChannelNewsAsia and Make Productions which uses surviving fragments of film to illustrate parts of the history and culture of China from the 1890s up to the end of the 1940s. Experts and scholars provide context and scenes are contrasted with contemporary views of the same locations. (content warning: sequences covering war and other conflicts depict injuries and death)

Historical footage is drawn from the British Film Institute's film collection of the same name; it's geo-locked unfortunately, but some of the original film fragments are available on Youtube.
posted by XMLicious (4 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Since it was hard to transcribe and track down and MeFi tags strip out anything with accents or non-Latin characters: dànjiǎo (旦角) are the cross-gender actors in Chinese opera, men who play women's roles (dàn).
posted by XMLicious at 12:32 AM on April 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Man, this is amazing stuff—I love how they discovered what that mysterious white squarish building on Nanjing Road was (and showed its modern successor), and it's amazing that they can identify the actual play and actor from that Yunnan clip! Some of the transitions are a little clunky ("Chinese feet are no longer bound... Fourteen million feet walk the grounds of the Forbidden City" [segue into old clip of Forbidden City]), but hey, it's TV. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 7:01 AM on April 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

That is a great documentary. The comparisons between the historical footage and present day are fantastic. Thank you for posting!
posted by booksarelame at 9:09 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

It looks like I confused myself and that it's actually 男旦, nándàn in Mandarin, which is the term for male actors who play women's roles.
posted by XMLicious at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2018

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