China Underground > Essential guide to China > Chinese Documentaries: Helping To Provide Viewers With Valuable Insights On Rural and Urban Life

Chinese Documentaries: Helping To Provide Viewers With Valuable Insights On Rural and Urban Life

China is a country steeped in plenty of history and has had a profound impact on the world today with its existence. While most are aware of its political ideologies and its ability to manufacture and export the vast majority of the world’s products, the country also has a hidden aspect to it, as much of the population may not quite understand the way of life that is enjoyed in the Asian nation of over 1 billion people.

Documentaries have always been a great way to gain an insight into the unknown, with many to be produced being educational to viewers who may not be fully aware of the topic’s subject. Unsurprisingly, with the West not being too privy to certain societal aspects, there have been numerous docs to have been created that help highlight just what life in certain parts of China can really be like.

What makes the best Chinese documentary?

Given that there are so many available options to choose from as a vast number have been created, it can be difficult to know which ones are among the best and what they perhaps offer as an insight to viewers. It can be hard to know what will provide valuable and educational insight and help audiences learn something new or interesting.

Of course, there are options that cover a wide breadth and depth of Chinese culture and history. With thousands of years worth of history – said to be more than 3,500! – and various regions around the country doing things differently from each other, there can be a lot to unpack. There can be topics that cover specific intricacies, while there can be some that are broader and cover numerous topics within one, such as focusing on urban lifestyles or those that live in the rural parts of China.

While it can be important to think of the subject matter when thinking of the best Chinese documentaries, it can also be important to think about the way in which they are made. The top choices will often feature numerous methods and techniques that help to bring the action to life. This can involve editing techniques, certain cinematography shots, or even using stock video to help highlight a point that is being made or depict just how normal or unique something is to a region.

What are the top Chinese documentaries to consider?

Suppose you are looking to explore documentaries that provide insights into various aspects of Chinese culture, from rural life to urban development and beyond. In that case, there are numerous options available that provide a comprehensive and engaging view of the country. Each of them will be able to leave the viewer feeling educated about the topic while also being able to view things in a different way to how they may have perceived it beforehand.

Last Train Home

Released in 2009, Last Train Home is a documentary showcasing the unique Chinese society and how workers continue to migrate across the country to return to their homes for the Chinese New Year festivities. It highlights the numerous challenges continually faced while showcasing the country’s rapid rise to an economic global superpower.

There are some incredible shots to have been utilized that help immerse the audience and give them a better idea of the bridge between the rich and poor, thus highlighting the way of life between those in rural China and those who live in the cities.

The Concrete Revolution

Perhaps the documentary that helps to sum up China’s emergence as a world superpower and how it has become so influential, 2004’s The Concrete Revolution showcases the impact of urbanization and modernization of the country and how certain people found that they were being displaced because of it. As historical sites were destroyed and millions were forced to leave or move, it shows the human cost that can come with a country’s effort to become a bigger economic player and progress further in its world standing.

The documentary provides visual insights into how people were treated and the huge changes that were being made to China’s environment. It also showed the challenges that people had to face when trying to go from a rural lifestyle to one that was urban.

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