Up The Yangtze: New Vs. Old China And The Presentation Of Culture

962 words - 4 pages

The film Up the Yangtze is a very powerful film that explores the changes in China with the coming of change for the sake of progress. The film focuses on a girl and a boy from very different backgrounds. Yu Shui is fresh out of school with aspirations of a higher education who is instead sent to go work on a cruise ship for tourists. The other focus is on Chen Bo Yu, a teen boy who grew up with a much more luxurious style than Yu. Although we never see Chen’s home we can infer this form the fact that we first find him buying his friends drinks in a karaoke bar. In comparison to Yu’s families shack on the side of the river he is living a luxurious life. Two teens with two different backgrounds were chosen to represent the changes in China within this documentary and we are going to explore why.
The narrator of this documentary mentioned multiple times how the China his grandfather once knew no longer exists. This could be caused by normal change or the fast rising of the water, but the affect is the same. If his grandfather came back to China present day there is a good chance he would not recognize the place he previously called home. I believe this is one reason that they chose Yu and her family as a subject of this film. They demonstrate many of the old ways of China and much less of the new than I believe Chen’s family would be. Yu’s father could even be a representation of what its like for the people who represent China butting heads with the newer generations. We could see how unhappy the young girl was when she was denied a higher education and instead was sent to work. On the other hand, the teen boy more closely resembles the new China with different values than Yu possesses. It would’ve been harder to compare these two different teens and how their backgrounds and values distinguish them in different settings but as we see, they are put in the same situation and the differences present themselves when they have two very different outcomes.
Once on the ship the two teens are put into two different jobs. Because Chen can sing and is considered handsome he starts out interacting with the ships guests while Yu Shui is put into the kitchen where she does dishes and other simple tasks. Eventually, she works hard and improves in her English enough to start work in the dining room. Chen is more isolated with no friends because they find him too arrogant. This eventually leads to his downfall and he is fired after the probation period. What does this mean? I see this as an extension of New vs. old China attitudes and the clashing of two cultures within one country....

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