Watch The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir
- 1 hr 14 min
The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir is a 1975 documentary film that features Shirley MacLaine's six-week trip to mainland China in 1973. The documentary is directed by anthropologist and filmmaker James Bridges and produced by James Houghton. It was released by United Artists. The film showcases Shirley MacLaine traveling, exploring, and interacting with the Chinese people for the first time ever. Shirley travels with a small team of producers, cameramen, and interpreters, which includes acupuncture specialist Dr. Michel G. Van Nieuwenhuyze. The group travels in various parts of China, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Shirley and her team's primary objective was to gain an insight into the lives of the Chinese people and bring back their experiences to the people of the United States.
The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir is a fascinating insight into a China that was still shrouded in mystery and largely inaccessible to westerners. The film illustrates the rapid pace of industrialization in China, which is undergoing transformation from an agrarian society to an industrial one. Shirley MacLaine visits many factories, coal mines, and other manufacturing facilities to see the progress being made in transforming the country. She interviews industrial workers, including women who are enthusiastic about their new profession and the opportunities it provides, and who strongly support the Chinese Communist Party.
In addition to her factory and mine visits, Shirley MacLaine also has other, equally memorable encounters. In one emotional scene, Shirley visits a remote village in the countryside, where she meets a group of girls, all of whom have been abandoned by their families. Shirley is intensely moved by their plight and devotes time trying to find someone to take care of them. She also meets talented musicians and attends performances of Chinese opera.
The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir is also the story of Shirley MacLaine's personal journey, as she grapples with the cultural differences and the unfamiliarity of a society that is drastically different from her own. The film presents Shirley's views about the social revolution taking place in China and how it is changing the traditional roles of women in Chinese society. She is impressed by the egalitarianism she witnesses and the empowering role of women in Chinese society.
The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir is a product of its time, and its initial release was seen as a groundbreaking moment, as it provided Americans an unprecedented view of China that was previously unavailable. It was the first documentary film to depict China after the Cultural Revolution and was hailed by critics for its poignant portrayal of the Chinese people and their aspirations.
In summary, The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir is a remarkable and stirring documentary as it depicts Shirley MacLaine's journey across China during a time of great transformation of culture, politics, and society. The film provides a lens into the lives of the Chinese people and their hopes and dreams of a better future. It is an inspiring and thought-provoking film and remains a significant piece of cinematic achievement of the 1970s.