The Life of Wu Xun Uncensored, Official DVD Incites Reflection
China’s first banned movie The Life of Wu Xun,
was recently released on DVD.
The Life of Wu Xun was widely popular during the 1950s;
later, due to criticism from Mao Zedong which caused a political storm,
the director and actors were criticized and
the movie was banned.
Due to this complex historical background, the cover of the
DVD says “For Research Purposes Only.”
“Life of Wu Xun” was written and directed by director Sun Yu
who was in the U.S at the time and
tells the story of Wu Xun who spent years collecting money
as a beggar to eventually found a free school for children.
On March 15, it was rumored on the internet that
the ban on “Life of Wu Xun” had been lifted.
Former Shanxi TV reporter Ma Xiaoming pointed out that,
the ban on this movie should have been lifted long ago.
Ma Xiaoming tells us, “As an art form, a way of communication,
various themes should be allowed, to be expressed in a variety of ways,
as to whether the theme is good or bad,
it’s possible effect on society, the values it may show,
society at large should be left to decide on these issues,
a work should be judged by it’s audiences.”
Since the release of the “Life of Wu Xun” DVD,
hundreds of copies have been sold.
Amazon China was already out of stock by March 19th.
The movie tells the story of Wu Xun, who lost his father at
the age of 7 and became a beggar with his mother.
After his mother died when he was 20 years old,
he went to the gentry seeking money for the funeral, but was badly beaten.
Wu Xun thought his suffering was due to his own lack of
education, so he spent 30 years collecting money as a beggar,
street entertainer and by other means to found a school,
so that kids from poor families would be able to go to school.
When the DVD “Life of Wu Xun” was first released in 1951,
all major theaters in Shanghai played it non-stop for months.
However, on May 20, 1951, the People’s Daily published a
discussion by Mao Zedong on the movie, accusing the movie of trying to “reform the minds of intellectuals.”
On June 23, the People’s Daily reported that
after Jiangqing sent an investigation team to Shangdong,
it was claimed that Wu Xun was a “thug, a big creditor,
and a big landowner,” which aroused nationwide criticism of the movie.
In 1966, the Cultural Revolution started, the Red Guards dug
up the grave of Wu Xun and burned his corpse on the street.
Mainland author Tie Liu expressed that,
Wu Xun’s begging to build a school with the proceeds
is completely the opposite of the class struggle ideology
that Mao was promoting,
so the work was denounced just as Liu Shaoqi had been.
Tie Liu tells us that, “The cultural revolution had accused
Liu Shaoqi of being a “capitulationist”,
so Wu Xun was compared with Liu Shaoqi, to bring down
Liu Shaoqi, the criticism was of his ideology.
So, Wu Xun‘s begging to start a school was seen
as not having a class struggle,
mentality as not having a class viewpoint,
this was the prevailing mentality in those troubled times.
Ma Xiaoming pointed out that, Mao Zedong championed the
struggle ideology, anyone that he viewed as not having a struggle ideology was brutally persecuted.
The movie industry was the most severely prosecuted
sector of society during the Cultural Revolution.
Ma Xiaoming says that, “At that time, whenever Mao Zedong made a critical comment,
especially after the Jiang Qing review had been conducted,
that immediately decided your fate, not only for the movie,
but for the lives of the production staff.
Many actors, directors, and writers were tortured during
interrogation, and many were beaten to death.”
Since the 1980s, many in China have wanted
to clear the name of Wu Xun.
It was not until 1985 that the People’s Daily expressed the
view that, the criticisms of Life of Wu Xun had been very one-sided, extreme and brutal.
In 1986, the State Council published an approval to clear
the name of Wu Yun, but the movie remained banned.
Mao Xiaming, “The process of ‘Life of Wu Xun’,
it’s being banned and criticized;
this is all a manifestation of Chinese Communist Fascism.
This type of cultural and ideological control still has not changed.”
Ma Xiaoming has pointed out that, the Chinese regime still
has a very strict movie review process.
Some films have been banned for simply telling the truth,
and for reflecting reality.