Watch Mulberry Child
- 1 hr 25 min
Mulberry Child is a poignant and emotional film that explores the troubling history of China under Mao Zedong's rule through the eyes of one family, the Jians. Directed by Susan Morgan Cooper, this documentary-style feature is based on the memoir of Jian Ping, who grew up in China during the tumultuous period of the Cultural Revolution. Set against the backdrop of Mao's communist regime in the 1960s and 1970s, the film chronicles the trials and tribulations of Ms. Jian's family, who were branded as "class enemies" and subjected to persecution and humiliation by the government. The title Mulberry Child refers to Jian's daughter, Lisa, who was born in China but raised in America. Lisa returns to her mother's homeland to uncover the secrets of her family's past and to understand the impact of Mao's policies on her parents' generation. The film is structured around a series of interviews with Jian, her parents, and her siblings, who recount their experiences growing up in Communist China. The Jians were a typical middle-class family, with a successful father who worked as a government official and a devoted mother who stayed home to care for their four children. However, their peaceful existence was shattered when Mao launched a campaign to purge the nation of its "capitalist" elements, including landowners, intellectuals, and anyone suspected of sympathizing with the West. As government officials, Jian's father and mother were particularly vulnerable to the Cultural Revolution, and they were subjected to public humiliations, imprisonment, and physical abuse by Mao's Red Guards. Their children were also targeted, with Lisa's older brother being falsely accused of betraying the Communist Party and sentenced to hard labor in the countryside. Throughout the film, Cooper skillfully weaves together historical footage, home movies, and present-day interviews with Jian and her family to tell their story. The result is a deeply moving and personal portrait of a family torn apart by political ideology, but ultimately reunited by love and resilience. As Lisa delves deeper into her parents' past, she begins to uncover secrets and untold stories that shed light on the broader impact of Mao's policies on Chinese society. She interviews former Red Guards, who express regret for their actions, and visits the sites of former labor camps and prisons where her family members were held. The film also highlights the long-lasting psychological effects of the Cultural Revolution on generations of Chinese families. Jian's mother suffers from PTSD and still has nightmares about the violence she witnessed, while Jian herself grapples with feelings of guilt and survivor's guilt. One of the most striking elements of Mulberry Child is its attention to detail and historical accuracy. Cooper consulted with historians and scholars to ensure that the film accurately portrayed the Cultural Revolution and its impact on ordinary families like the Jians. The result is a powerful and illuminating film that sheds light on a dark period of Chinese history that is not well-known in the West. At its core, Mulberry Child is a story of resilience and hope in the face of adversity. Despite the horrors they endured, the Jians persevered and ultimately found a way to move forward. Lisa's journey to uncover her family's past is a testament to the power of storytelling and the importance of understanding our shared history. In conclusion, Mulberry Child is a must-see film that shines a light on a dark period of Chinese history and tells a deeply personal story of one family's journey to survive and thrive in the face of tremendous adversity. Through its powerful interviews, historical accuracy, and emotional storytelling, the film is a moving tribute to the strength of the human spirit.