Against the the Xinhai Revolution Mainstream: On Evans Chan's Datong: The Great Society
The man who could have changed China's history
Exciting, inventive, bold, postmodern!"
---Ann Hui, award-winning Hong Kong filmmaker
[a scholar] of great intelligence and courage…Kang Youwei saw himself as a new sage capable of saving the Chinese people….Evans Chan's Datong: The Great Society is a film on Kang, his family, and fellow reformers. The Swedish angle is indeed an interesting and unusual way to bring Kang back to life.
---Jonathan Spence 史景遷, author of The Search for Modern China
Datong: The Great Society is among the most outstanding of all documentaries I've ever seen. Absolutely first-rate…the film's original form has created networks of intertextuality and allusion among diverse materials. This is an unusual biographical film, realistic as a documentary, but also “dramatic.” The film's title is “Datong,” obviously referring to the “Book of Datong” by the famous philosopher Kang Youwei… whose vision of reforming China competed against Dr. Sun Yatsen's advocacy of revolution…“Book of Datong” is a book much ahead of its time…and Evans Chan's film pursues Kang's contemporary relevance…The film's narrator is a well-known personality in the art world in her own right – the choreographer Chiang Ching. This narrator's sympathy probably lies not so much with Kang, than with Kang's daughter Kang Tung Pih, an enormously talented pioneer of women's rights in China. This feminist angle has enriched the film, lending it warmth and humanity. The interviewees are all notable experts in Euro-America; their participation alone warrants interest in the field of Chinese studies…I wish at least this film's artistic merits can be recognized, while creating discussions…and reflections on the meaning of the centennial of the 1911 Revolution…in the cultural world of the three Chinas of Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland.
---Leo Ou Fan Lee 李歐梵, Professor Emeritus of Chinese Literature, Harvard University & Professor of Humanities, Chinese University, Hong Kong
Full of fascinating information from a turbulent Chinese century – did you know that modern China's first major political reformer Kang Youwei lived on an island off Stockholm from 1904 to 1908, or that the renowned choreographer/actress Chiang Ching also lives on a Swedish isle now? The imagery of the island and the whole idea of finding oneself somewhere else -- in every sense of that phrase – makes Datong: The Great Society a very moving film. The life of this great Southern intellectual/utopian philosopher caught between admiration for the West, exile, and patriotic self-sacrifice, resonates so strongly with the struggles of China's diasporic intelligentsia today.
---Chris Berry, Professor, Film and Television
Evans Chan's docu-drama, Datong: The Great Society, is an elegant object-lesson in the overlapping complexities of history. Its fluid intermingling of documentary, theatre, dance, memory, analogy, and travelogue in itself is an important statement about the simultaneous unraveling of politics and history on many levels -- transnationally, and through the interaction of innumerable people and ideas. There is a gracefulness about the lyrical reminiscences by Kang Youwei, China's earliest constitutional reformer, of his four fateful years in Sweden and his fervour to maintain his political organization to change China; the dramatic anguish of Kang's daughter during the persecutions of the Cultural Revolution; and the contemporary – moving and unforgettable -- reflections of the leading exilic choreographer/actress Chiang Ching, herself living in Sweden a century later. Enlivened by interviews with well-known scholars in the field, the film leaves one with a deep appreciation of the intensity of the debates and struggles that fuelled - and in Kang's case, sought to moderate and avoid - the century of violent revolution, ethnic discords and political constraint that Chinese citizens are still undergoing.
---Robert Barnett, Founder and director, Modern
A powerful and affecting docu-drama, Datong: The Great Society tackles themes central to modern China ranging from reform/revolution to sexuality, gender and ethnic relations. The subtle ways of remaining intensely Chinese while becoming thoroughly cosmopolitan are explored through Kang's daughter Kang Tung Pih (1887-1969), as well as the narrator of the film -- renowned actress-choreographer Chiang Ching, who lives in Sweden, where Kang spent a few years of his exile. On one hand, a Sweden full of stately buildings and pastoral vistas. On the other, a China in turmoil and ruins. One could be reminded of Francis Fukuyama's recent question of how “we” – not just contemporary Chinese -- can "get to Denmark," which seems a question Kang himself would have appreciated.
---沙培德 Peter Zarrow, 中央研究院 Academia Sinica,
Full of fascinating information from a turbulent Chinese century – did you know that modern
---Chris Berry, Professor, Film and Television
The combination of interwoven life stories, historical and ideological exploration, intellectual analysis and artistic creativity make Datong irresistible…a significant addition to Chan's already impressive filmography. The performances are excellent, and Lindzay Chan is absolutely amazing.
---Michael Ingham, Professor of English and
Datong: The Great Society is an extraordinary and dauntless undertaking, and a moving film about Kang Youwei – as played by the remarkable Liu Kai Chi -- and Kang's search for Datong, the utopia in the Confucian tradition.
--- Russell Leong, Editor, Amerasia, UCLA
---史景遷 (Jonathan Spence, 著名歷史學家，
《大同: 康有為在瑞典》是我看過的所有中外記錄片中的佼佼者, 絕對是第一流的作品...在形式上是一種極有創意的「互文」和引喻...這是一部別開生面的人物傳記, 它既寫實,也極有戲劇性...片名《大同》,當然源自康有為的《大同書》...這是一本超越時代的奇書...康有為的當代意義，也就此展開。片中的敘述者是另一位藝壇名人: 現代舞蹈家江青。敘述者認同的不見得是康有為, 而是他的女兒康同璧, 她也是一位才華出的女權主義者。這一個女性視 角使得本片的內容更形豐富,也更有人情 味。而片中訪問的幾位學者皆是歐美漢學界的名人,這幾位「名嘴」在片中現身, 就足以引起學界注意了。 陳耀成此片呈現出一種「另類」視野...是辛亥革命主潮中的「逆流」....我認為在文化的公共領域中, 越是另類越是值得注意... 應讓此片本身的藝術成就得到承認, 並引起三岸的討論。
《大同：康有為在瑞典》是優異作品，對康有為及百年中國提出獨特論點，並且經常引 用朱石麟名片《清宮秘史》，觸及複雜政治問題。這部另類獨立影片充滿值得重溫和爭 論之處，敬請注意，因為這樣富於歷史性、政治性和創作性的「港產片」實在不可多得。
---石琪 (明報「電影夢」版, 2011年5月15日)
---沙培德 (Peter Zarrow),「中國地段」博站 , China Beat Blog
此片從這動盪的百年中國裡找出不少引人入勝的細節。你可知康有為在斯德易爾摩的一個島上住了四年? 而名演員及舞蹈家江青仍然住在瑞典的一個島上? 島的意象以及人永遠置身別處的意念，令《大同：康有為在瑞典》非常感人。這位南方大儒在流放之時，既景慕西才文化，又不忘捨身報國之召喚，在今天旅居海外的中國知識分子的矛盾心境中，定然引強烈迴響。
---裴開瑞 (Chris Berry, 著名電影學者，倫敦大學 Goldsmiths 學院教授)
陳耀成在我心目中是華語電影真正的知識份子，他有詩人的情懷，敏銳的洞察力，原創性的創作形式，還有當代華語電影導演中難得有的歷史觀。他做這部《大同: 康有為在瑞典》就具體而微地綜合了以上的長才：康有為，這位中國近代史的思想/政治/文化巨擎，是中國家喻戶曉的君皇制度改革者。他受到的挫折和悲劇，是中國近代史的轉折點。他和孫逸仙，一個改革保皇派一個革命共和派，在今年中國革 命百年來看，真是滄桑血淚的民族奮鬥史。
耀成的紀錄故事片(docu-drama)混合了歷史材料，古今共鳴，以及舞臺上的重現關鍵片段，康有為、康同璧（康女）以及梁啟超的發言: 時而激蕩時而感懷 。戲劇/哲理並重，創意/傳統齊發。配上史料、訪問，使《大同: 康有為在瑞典》不同於一般紀錄片及故事片，帶著原創與多元思維的光輝。