Mulberry Child

| February 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

Mulberry Child is a documentary on the life of Jian Ping, author of the book “Mulberry Child” and her family. Jian was born in 1960 during Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward. Her father, although devoted to the Communist Party was sequestered away and labeled as a “traitor” because he had stood up for a friend wrongly accused of “unpatriotic acts.” Her father had been captured and tortured by the Japanese during their occupation of China. This further slandered his reputation. Jian’s mother, Wing Sue, was left to fend for her 4 children and disabled mother-in-law alone. Soon after the family was forced to move to a mud hut with no running water nor electricity in the dead of winter. Jian’s family was harassed daily. Her mother was forced to write self re-criminations all day by the red guards who attempted to force her to divorce her husband. She refused. She didn’t want her children to be fatherless. Her eldest children were sent to labor camps and Jian, the youngest, was left with her crippled grandmother. Despite all the hardship and injustice they experienced, Jian’s parents stayed loyal to the communist party. At an early age, Jian learned from her family’s behaviour, that she must hide her emotions and be strong for the family. The documentary begins with the present day relationship of Jian and her daughter Lisa. Jian fears that her daughter doesn’t have the strong family values of a Chinese daughter. Lisa complains that she doesn’t feel a connection with her mother and feels more like a “guest” in her mother’s house. The story unfolds with Jian telling us why she wrote the book, “Mulberry Child” and flashes back to when Jian was a child growing up during the Cultural Revolution. Jian wanted her daughter to know what she went through and have a better understanding of her and their ancestry. Events that happened to Jian and her family are re-enacted and some old footage from the Cultural Revolution is woven in as well. It begins with Jian’s mother, Wing Sue, as a young girl choosing her potential husband from a list of names. We find out the soon-to-be husband had chosen Jian’s mother from a list as well. This destiny will bind them, keeping them together through the roughest of times. Towards the end of the documentary we follow Jian and her daughter Lisa on a trip to China to visit Jian’s parents and relatives and to see the Beijing Olympic ceremony. Spending time together strengthens their relationship as they get a better understanding of each other. It also shows the modernization and success of China since the time of the revolution. This documentary was compelling and informative. It weaves the old and the new together very smoothly. It begins with the mother/daughter conflict and explores Jian’s behavior by delving into the trauma of her past in an historical and engaging way. Utilizing old footage and simple re-enactments, the film demonstrates how the past experiences of Jian influence who she becomes as an adult as well as her daughter’s behavior. The theme is universal and at once accessible and intriguing.

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