Film on 1942 Famine A Microcosm Of Beijing's Censoring Power

Film on 1942 Famine A Microcosm Of Beijing's Censoring Power

The new movie “Back to 1942” is expected to be a blockbuster in China.

The subject matter is the famine of 1942, which was nothing compared to the famine of 1958-1962. But the latter famine cannot be the subject of movies because it occurred during the time in which Mao had initiated China’s “Great Leap Forward” and Beijing cannot allow negative views of Mao’s economic overhaul to be expressed.

The “Great Leap Forward” was Mao’s attempt “to transform China from an agrarian economy into a modern communist society through rapid industrialization and collectivization of farming.”

Think about it this way: the famine of 1942 killed approximately 3 million people. But from 1958-1962 approximately 36 million Chinese died, “mostly due to starvation but also government instigated torture and murder of those who opposed the Communist Party’s maniacal economic plans that caused the catastrophe.”

Therefore, while Beijing is allowing “Back to 1942” to be released to glowing fanfare in an attempt to convince the Chinese people that the famine of 1942 was as bad as it gets, the reality is that the famine of 1958-1962 is known throughout the world as “The Great Chinese Famine.” 

For this reason, many believe “Back to 1942” is not only being released but also promoted by the Chinese government as a means to drown out the message of Yang Jisheng’s recent book, “Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962.” 

In other words, no matter what really happened in history, the legacy of Mao is far more important that the 36 million people who died during the four year period that marked his aggressive efforts to transform China into a communist economy.