In 1972 Micheangelo Antonioni was invited by the Chinese government (It is said it was Den Xiaoping among them) to make a film about the new China, that China immersed inside its Cultural Revolution. Antonioni filmed whatever his Chinese advisers wanted, whenever they wanted, wherever they wanted; everything was well prepared to make an ideological document of the Maoist era. When the final product was released the government was furious and banned the film (1) .
The documentary is simple but clear and even rebel, showing everything the Chinese government wanted to show but edited in the way the spectator was absolutely able to understand the difficult moment Chinese people were living in those years.
The scene I want to show from the documentary is a puppet performance at Chang'An theatre, a simple stage production with real size puppets imitating the playing of a musical orchestra.
Antonioni opened the camera to the public, showing their faces, their waiting for the performance, and the presence of the people stayed there with the sound of their laugh during the theatrical act. Then, the performance came as an example of the Socialist Realism in Cultural Revolution age, nothing engaged with the traditional way to do Puppet theatre: costume as in the real life, children or teenagers with healthy faces and bodies, showing security and happiness while they were playing.
The acting technique seems very professional and well worked, even if the performance is so simple some of the puppets expresses "life" in their actions; the best example is the girl playing the er-hu (that kind of violin or small cello), she seems (like a real girl) enjoying her performance.
(1) The documentary had its first view for the public inside China in 2005.