The Blue Kite: Political Background
Three Key Movements
Rectification Movement
Great Leap Forward
Cultural Revolution
Why did Tian choose to have each of these movements represented by the key
patriarchal figure in Tietou’s life?
How does the distinction of Tietou’s relationship with each figure reflect the
population’s relationship with the Party/ these political movements?
A Beijing wedding in 1957
Rectification Movement (Hundred Flowers)
“Let a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend”
• 1956-1957
• Brief removal of public restrictions on public expression
• Mao’s motives debatable, but purpose was to allow China’s intellectuals
to criticise Communist bureaucrats, in the hope that constructive criticism
would result in quashing the bureaucrats’ arrogance and inflexibility.
• Many intellectuals directed their criticism against the Communist system
as a whole. Mao viewed this as “bourgeois”, “counter-revolutionary” and
Rectification Movement (Anti-Rightist)
• Anti-rightist” campaign 1957 was a direct response- arresting and “reeducating” those intellectuals who’d spoken out earlier
• Worker organisations that employed intellectuals were expected to purge
at least 5% of their workers (as we see with Lin Shaolong)
• This led to many loyal supporters being branded rightists
• By 1958, many intellectuals not even labelled “rightist” were in labour
• Distrust of intellectuals continued into both the Great Leap Forward and
the Cultural Revolution
Grasp Revolution to Promote Production –
Fight for a Great Leap Forward in Steel
Everyday life in a Northeastern factory during the Great Leap Forward
Everyday life in a Northeastern factory during the Great Leap Forward
Great Leap Forward
• Mao and central planning committee started in August 1958
• Goal was to dramatically increase both agricultural and industrial output
• Division of countryside into communes- by 1959, 26,000 different communes with
approx. 5000 families in each
• Land, food, workers- all communal
• Propaganda and state workers encouraged ordinary workers to modify and simplify
the operation of complicated, imported machines
• This resulted in very poor grade steel, in small amounts
• Result- dreadful famine 59-62- estimated 30 million Chinese starved to death.
Liaoning, backyard
furnace in 1959
A map depicting
agriculture’s Great
Leap Forward
from 1958
deliver the
grain tax
in 1959
Reasons for famine also include:
• bad weather
• Killing of the “four pests” included sparrows- which allowed locusts to flourish
• communes turning over more grain than they could afford to, to meet unrealistic
• Farmers removed from land to work in steel mills
• Farmers ordered to use techniques that failed miserably- crop production
dropped from 200 million tons to 136 million by 1961
• Great Leap Forward impacted on Mao’s influence over the Party, so he needed
a new movement, to recharge his standing
Cultural Revolution
Class portrait at Jinan’s
No. 1 Railroad High School in 1962
Jiangsu provincial government
cadres go to a May 7th School
for re-education in 1969
Cultural Revolution
In 1966 Mao declared that CCP had been infiltrated by bourgeois influences that
desired a return to capitalism.
• Politburo issued a statement saying the Party was now filled with enemies
that must be identified and removed
• Across 10 years, millions were persecuted as “revisionists” or “counterrevolutionary”
• Young people were particularly active as “Red Guards”
• Targeted citizens were subjected to abuse, public humiliation, seizure of
property, torture, forced displacement to the countryside, imprisonment and
• Religious and historic sites were ransacked and destroyed
Questions for students:
1) Assess the ways in which propaganda influences the actions of people in this film.
2) Choose one of the movements depicted in this film, and describe how it impacts
on the lives of the people in this film.
3) Identify the ways in which the Party becomes a part of the everyday lives of the
people in this film.
4) “The more I think, the less I understand” Discuss how the Party movements and
propaganda personally impact on Shujuan’s life throughout the film.
5) Why do you think that Lao Wu (The Stepfather) was accused of being counterrevolutionary? Give reasons for your opinion.
6) How does the interior life depicted in the film reflect the exterior life of events
happening at the time in China?
7) The wedding song in the film is actually a Socialist song praising Chairman Maowhy do you think it is sung at the wedding?
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