What’s Your POV About ‘Up the Yangtze’?

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Sixteen-year-old “Cindy” Yu Shui, the daughter of an illiterate farmer, dreams of pursing her education and becoming a scientist, despite her family’s poverty. But as the rising waters of the Yangtze River begin to displace her family’s hut, she leaves home to take a job on a cruise ship on the Yangtze River, washing dishes below deck and trying to earn enough to provide for her family. Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old “Jerry” Chen Bo Yu comes from a very different background. The only child of a middle-class family, Chen Bo Yu is brash, confident, and in-tune with China’s rush into capitalist economics. He too, works on the cruise ship, but as a porter above deck, interacting with the tourists, many of them American.

Both of their stories, along with the stories of displaced residents, Yu Shui’s family, and the river itself, are told in Yung Chang‘s Up The Yangtze, which reveals a China that is undergoing an inexorable and tumultuous reshaping, in which the past is seen as being washed away while it lies just below the surface, and the unintended consequences of rapid economic and technological change chart an uneasy course toward a stronger and more prosperous China.

Up the Yangtze airs on most PBS stations on Wednesday, October 8 at 10 PM. (Schedules vary, so check your local listings.)

When Yu Shui gets upset on her last night at home because she has to quit school to work on the cruise boat, her mother tells her the heartbreaking truth that she doesn’t want to hear: “We don’t even have enough to eat! Where can we find the money for rent? You should consider that your parents’ lives are not easy… In this world, it’s not like any parent wants to exploit their child for labor.”

Chen Bo Yu takes a very different attitude about money. After working on the boat for awhile, he points out, “I earn the most [in my family] … so I’m very very happy! Make more money … is my dream.”

For filmmaker Yung Chang, the different strata of Chinese society was one of the inspirations for the film. He says, “[I wanted to make] a movie about tourists on this Yangtze cruise boat — a kind of ‘Gosford Park’ idea that shows the social hierarchy, the lives above and below the decks. I realized that the people working on the boat were all from the Yangtze area and that many of their families were affected by the dam.”

The construction of the Three Gorges Dam has been a monumental project in the name of progress for China, displacing more than 1 million people from their homes. What are your thoughts about its impact on the people who live in the area along the river? Do you think the dam’s construction has created more opportunities or problems for people like Yu Shui and Chen Bo Yu as they began their new jobs on the boat? Share your thoughts about Up the Yangtze with us in the comments.

Ruiyan Xu
Ruiyan Xu
Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.
  • Jim

    FOREIGNID: 17557
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I doubt I can convey in a few words how powerful this film was for me. It vastly transcends the supposed focus of documenting the coming of the Three Gorges Dam in China and becomes a masterpiece that evokes monumental and archetypal issues. I don’t want to try to put too many words to this because doing so begins almost immediately to diminish the vastness and power of what is a work of true genius. I congratulate Yung Chang and highly recommend the film to anyone seriously interested in being reminded of how a great work of art transports you to the raw heart of human existence regardless of the subject matter of the moment.

  • Crystal

    FOREIGNID: 17558
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I watched the film tonight. I have always been learning about the Chinese culture and I love the language. Only tonight did I truely see the inside look into Chinese economy in the Yangtze region. I am a junior in college in the B.A program of Human Services and my goal is to join the Peace Corps when I graduate. Was the movie filmed in the Yangtze province? Or is called something else? I want to request that I be placed there when I join.
    On a personal note, I have to say that I cried in the end. To see ‘Cindy’ and her family’s home be submerged was very heart wrenching! Thank you for this film and thank you pbs for airing it. It was a true delight, and sad one, to watch!

  • Jim

    FOREIGNID: 17559
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I saw this last night and was very impressed on the human element effected by the building of the dam. I agree with Crystal that I too did shed a tear at the end and commend her for the idea of joining the Peace Corps on graduation. To see this film has shown me how the Chinese view western culture, and their ideals and dreams of becoming more. An emotionally sensitive people, sometimes I think they have a better life then they would ever know on this side of the window of culture and I am left feeling jealous and sad.

  • Karen

    FOREIGNID: 17560
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    How LUCKY we are in this country of the United States of America…..I will never complain about anything ever ever again! Thank you for the documentary….How do I send Cindy money for school? :)

  • http://www.global-heat.com Rob

    FOREIGNID: 17561
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    We stumbled upon the film “Up the Yangtze” just one day after returning from a 20-day tour in China, including the 3-day cruise on the Yangtze River. Imagine our surprise at seeing the very cruise boat we took and the “peapod” boats we rode in on the Shennong River. This film is extraordinary! It gave me more perspective than actually having taken the Yangtze cruise, having gone through the boat elevator at the dam, and having toured the Three Gorges dam itself. My journal entries for the trip were so superficial compared to the depth and spirit of this film. Thank you so much to the film-makers.

  • jamie

    FOREIGNID: 17562
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    what a restrained, elegant, informative film! why isn’t my tv like this every night?!

  • temitayo wale

    FOREIGNID: 17563
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    i liked the documentary.

  • cmspeno

    FOREIGNID: 17564
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Awesome. The contrast of the living conditions on the river and the dining room on the boat in one of the last scenes was powerful. I hope this will be shown again.

  • Deborah Pierre-Louis

    FOREIGNID: 17565
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    b – e – a – u – t – i – f – u – l

  • Jean

    FOREIGNID: 17566
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links
    I enjoyed the Yangtze program having been there in 2007 and visited one family who had been relocated. We were led to believe that the government was relocating everyone in danger of flooding.
    I missed the beginning quote on “Wisdom.” We get wisdom in three ways –reflection……. etc. Can anyone give me the complete quote. Thanks. JRH

  • vpeek

    FOREIGNID: 17567
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    what a great film. my heart goes out to yu shui and her family….and about “jerry”… he’s still young, and he’ll learn as time goes by…money isn’t everything… it helps, but its not everything.

  • bruce ellzey

    FOREIGNID: 17568
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    In a few minutes my feelings about China and the Chinese was turned around. It was poetic and I now have more hope for the future.

  • Joan Albrecht

    FOREIGNID: 17569
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Having taken this cruise in May, I was touched by the intimacy of this film. It is very accurate, and much more telling than the cruise itself. It fills in the details that the tour guides left unsaid.

  • T. Kaufman

    FOREIGNID: 17570
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was on the ship during filming in October 2006 and enjoyed seeing me and my friends for a few seconds, but it appears that most of the scenes were shot on another cruise. It was amazing to see such a moving and powerful story, especially after meeting the staff on the ship who were so gracious, friendly and eager to be of assistance. Too bad you didn’t get a shot of one of the rowers on the peapod boats who talked on his cellphone while rowing. Quite a vision!

  • Phil Ricupero

    FOREIGNID: 17571
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This film, ” Up the Yangtze”, was a wonderful presentation. The filmmaker’s comments at the end of the film was exactly what I derived from the film.

  • mailmanmike

    FOREIGNID: 17572
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I also was moved by this film, I do alot of cruises in the USA and the faces that greet me each morning will not go unnoticed, The daily struggles going thru this family were heart wrenching, To see the mother so ashamed and the father working so hard , and the daughter looking so embarrassed was very difficult to watch, God bless them all and i will be making my own pledge as everyone who has seen this film should do, The Things that we have and take for granted are not things that are important in life. God bless

  • ari

    FOREIGNID: 17573
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    a great documentary… really moved by it. i read the updates about Cindy and I’m glad there are so many people contributed towards her family. I’m happy she wants to finish school and succeed for her family. god bless her and her family.

  • William Sollner

    FOREIGNID: 17574
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links. Where can I get a DVD copy of this film. It is masterful!

  • Gail

    FOREIGNID: 17575
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I’ve just seen the film & can hardly express how deeply it touched me. Jim’s comments cannot be improved upon &, so, I join him in his beautifully worded tribute.

  • Sara

    FOREIGNID: 17576
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    What a powerful and moving documentary. This is a true reflection of the human spirit-resiliance, heartache,loss, greed. I cried as I watched a government with so much power give their energy to something other than their greatest asset-their people. I cried and felt,as the Christian woman praying to God, that something was clawing me in the heart. Also, being close to my family I was heartbroken to think and see that a girl who was younger than myself had so much resting upon her small shoulders. Her father was doing the best he could and in the end he still lost his home and really a piece of his daughter to the river. We in America, need to be thankful for the opportunities we have and for the many blessings and provisions we have. Thank you to the filmaker and crew who took the time to capture these images that will be with me for a very long time.

  • ari

    FOREIGNID: 17577
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    a great documentary… really moved by it. i read the updates about Cindy and I’m glad there are so many people contributed towards her family. I’m happy she wants to finish school and succeed for her family. god bless her and her family.

  • ari

    FOREIGNID: 17578
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    a great documentary… really moved by it. i read the updates about Cindy and I’m glad there are so many people contributed towards her family. I’m happy she wants to finish school and succeed for her family. god bless her and her family.

  • mailmanmike

    FOREIGNID: 17579
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Everyone of us tonight should say a pray for this family, A pray of thanksgiving and reflection of why we are on this planet. We should all do good things and live just one day in there shoes.

  • nicholas

    FOREIGNID: 17580
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I guess I turned on the tv just in time to see the PBS sdcedule for tonight. Luckey for me. I sat there like a child and wept. The great emotion that overcame me was not expected as I sat there in my home alone, just me and my dog. I would very much like to send something for the family. The appreciation they have for eachoter, and the struggle just takes my breath away and your film blew that through the screen right into my heart! Thank you. I needed a good cry and appreciation of whats really importtant in our lives…..

  • nicholas

    FOREIGNID: 17581
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I guess I turned on the tv just in time to see the PBS sdcedule for tonight. Luckey for me. I sat there like a child and wept. The great emotion that overcame me was not expected as I sat there in my home alone, just me and my dog. I would very much like to send something for the family. The appreciation they have for eachoter, and the struggle just takes my breath away and your film blew that through the screen right into my heart! Thank you. I needed a good cry and appreciation of whats really importtant in our lives…..

  • Lydia Shipman

    FOREIGNID: 17582
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The film is so much more educational about the problems facing young people in the inside of the Chinese culture. One can not escape the comparison of young American’s cultural problems verses those of the young Chinese problems. I hope that these young people in your film continue to learn and help their families.

  • Jason

    FOREIGNID: 17583
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    as a chinese american this film really hit home…as my parents also sacrificed so much to give me the opportunities i have here in the united states
    this film accurately shows the piety that many children have for their parents…the broad scope of this massive human endeavor to control the yangtze river…and the way it affects the people of china
    i only hope yuan chang can bring more films like this that really shows that there is not one china…but many chinas…with its people that have different opinions, dreams, and hopes

  • nicholas

    FOREIGNID: 17584
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I guess I turned on the tv just in time to see the PBS sdcedule for tonight. Luckey for me. I sat there like a child and wept. The great emotion that overcame me was not expected as I sat there in my home alone, just me and my dog. I would very much like to send something for the family. The appreciation they have for eachoter, and the struggle just takes my breath away and your film blew that through the screen right into my heart! Thank you. I needed a good cry and appreciation of whats really importtant in our lives…..

  • nicholas

    FOREIGNID: 17585
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I guess I turned on the tv just in time to see the PBS sdcedule for tonight. Luckey for me. I sat there like a child and wept. The great emotion that overcame me was not expected as I sat there in my home alone, just me and my dog. I would very much like to send something for the family. The appreciation they have for eachoter, and the struggle just takes my breath away and your film blew that through the screen right into my heart! Thank you. I needed a good cry and appreciation of whats really importtant in our lives…..

  • A.J.R.V

    FOREIGNID: 17586
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Truly eye opening. I don’t know what to say. If more Americans seen this they would be more thankful for what they have here. Thank You Yung Chang.
    Are there any recent updates about Yu Shui and her family from this year?

  • Michael Couch

    FOREIGNID: 17587
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Yung Chang is a talented and creative filmmaker, who sees and conveyed many of the essences of great art, to communicate the human condition, touch the heart and connect us all. This is the kind of look into the lives of the humans that suffer on this planet that MUST be seen by all of us.
    We hear about the suffering almost daily. Yung Chang brought the reality of it to us. I want a channel on my TV that gives me this kind of insight into the lives of the poor all over my planet. This is the kind of programming that will help us answer our own prayers, “…Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth, as it is in Heaven.”
    In the end, the Dam may improve the lives of millions of Chinese, even the poorest. In the midst of the current “economic crisis”, this film brings home what our priorities should be. The discussion on Charlie Rose that I’m watching as I write this just put things into perspective using new terms, “Totalitarian Capitalism” vs. “Free Market Capitalism”. The guest pointed out that they are both flawed. I often wonder where we get the idea that Capitalism is a good thing and a founding principle of Democracy. Both these forms of Capitalism crush the poor on a regular basis. The big difference in America is that our “Christian Conscience” compels us not to allow the poor to get “too destroyed” by it.
    What we don’t understand is that economic injustice is the result of our artificial economic systems driven by greed and the engineered scarcity and control of financial and other resources. In the “Anti-Christ System” of Revelations no one could buy or sell without the “Mark of the Beast”. In the “Kingdom of Heaven” the citizen is urged to “come and buy without money”. We all know how it ought to be, why don’t we “make it so”, as Picard was always saying?

  • Lisa

    FOREIGNID: 17588
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for the realistic & personal view of the effect of the dam. I am glad to have this perspective and learn about the everyday issues they are facing. It was very emotional for me when the Yu’s were displaced, hiking their possessions up the rocks, the labor Mr. Yu had to work at because there is nothing else is distressing. The uncertainty of their situation is so emotional. I am moved by their story, all to help the children succeed.
    I was also emotional when Jerry was fired for his personality basically. I did not like how the cruise ship tells the crew to contain their personality and not talk about Northern Ireland or comparing the US to Canada for example!! What??! Get real, and let the people be normal, it is easy to tell when service is genuine and somebody who is generally nice & relates to people humanly will get the best tip & be happy in their job.
    I happened to be in Peace Corps, they don’t really let you choose your location, but definitely still go for it!! It was the best learning experience of people in the world for me.

  • justin

    FOREIGNID: 17589
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I think this was a brilliant documentary. With the cinematic beauty & strong narrative, at times I felt like I was watching a feature film. A few years ago, when I visited a friend teaching english in China, my experience abroad broadened my point of view on how people are affected by their context. Today this film has deepened my understanding of how (globally) education and people’s attitude towards work can transform societies / economies. In the midst of great changes, people who are willing to shed their cultural baggage & the personality flaws, which they cling to, will be best suited to face our future.

  • Beth Callahan

    FOREIGNID: 17590
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    What a wonderful insite into China and those swept ahead and those left behind. The body language and lack of self esteme was so evident in Cinday as she began this tremendous adventures into a place and so foreign to her. I wanted to hug her and gently guide her giving kind words of encouragemenrt. The film maker portraid the struggle of classes so well. Give all those involved my greatst complenment. I recognize and admire the rapid amount of changes you are involved with. Education to everyone is the only way this country can grow anb prosper. This documenjmtary has made me a changed traveler,

  • Marty & Nina Rosenberg

    FOREIGNID: 17591
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    IMy wife and I just returned from a similar Yangtze cruise 2 weeks ago. Kudos to Yung Chang for doing an outstanding job in showing us “the other side of the story”. It is sad that on our trip we were only told and shown the positive aspects of the relocation. We had tears in our eyes as we watched this incredible film and saw the plight of the illiterate, poor farmers who lived on the now flooded shores of the river.

  • Jason

    FOREIGNID: 17592
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    as a chinese american this film really hit home…as my parents also sacrificed so much to give me the opportunities i have here in the united states
    this film accurately shows the piety that many children have for their parents…the broad scope of this massive human endeavor to control the yangtze river…and the way it affects the people of china
    i only hope yuan chang can bring more films like this that really shows that there is not one china…but many chinas…with its people that have different opinions, dreams, and hopes

  • Brandon

    FOREIGNID: 17593
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I stumbled upon this film by channel surfing. I could not help watching the film to the end. What a good documentary! Thank the filmmaker for showing the world another side of the modern China, the darker side of the China that the government does not want to the world to see. I am from China; each time I saw documentary like this one, my heart always felt heavy. The story told in the documentary is not an isolated one. Many people are still living in poverty, forgotten by the society and government. I praise the filmmaker for providing a balanced view of the modern China.

  • kol

    FOREIGNID: 17594
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for making this beautiful documentary film. I really enjoy the film because it reminds me of where I came from. My parents made lots of sacrifices so that I can be where I am today. I am thankful for what they have done.
    I will help those people in this film by donating some money. Hopefully they will live a better life.

  • Kris

    FOREIGNID: 17595
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    What a touching story and a great film! I grew up in Southeast Asia but have lived and worked in the US for many years. The documentary has brought back an old memory of Asia and reminded me of how poor people still are in this part of the world. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help Cindy. The Yangtze river is so beautiful. I would love to take my family on this cruise up the Yangtze on our next vacation to China. Mr. Chang did a wonderful job in this documentary. His dad is a good singer….I wish I could speak Chinese.

  • JacQueline Mestre

    FOREIGNID: 17596
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was very moved by this film. It caused me to look inside myself to find the commonalities between myself and the main characters…to question and analyze my own feelings of both resentment towards my parents AND the entitlement for having had it easier than some. I acknowledged the many blessings that I had and still do compared to many people in the world, hear and abroad, and am reminded to be thankful yet in touch with and humbled by the struggles of all people. It is so easy to feel “less than” or “more than” in any society regardless of where you fall on the socio-economic spectrum without accepting and appreciating your own journey. We should all be reminded of how difficult many people have it and be happy for the “luxuries” we do have access to yet always take into consider the current situation of many of our fellow human beings and always work towards making this a better world for all. Films like this remind us of this and keep it in our face – right where it needs to be.
    Besides being sad about the inequality and injustice experienced by some of the subjects, I also connected the struggle of the farmers and their families to the struggles of the poor, marginalized, disadvantaged and disenfranchised people, not only in other countries, but here in the good old US of A…how this government also sacrifices the livelihood and hopes of it’s poor, marginalized, disadvantaged and disenfranchised for the “greater good” of it’s “more financially well-off” – again, speaking to the commonality in people who struggle and have wishes of a better life for themselves and their future generations.
    I was pained by the irony in the statement made by one of the men that stood by the river in one scene when he said that China was, to paraphrase, so “strong and prosperous” that it could stop the river – as if it were a Bible miracle (God splitting the Red Sea – something “more aware” people know can be done “easily” with today’s technology)! How much these people lacked in awareness and what a poor job China does in educating it poorer population was not so surprising (as it isn’t w/ most any country, again, even here in the USA). But the biggest irony came that it was being said by a man, just like the film’s subjects and their families, that obviously was not on the receiving end of China being such a “strong and prosperous” nation.
    There are so many things that can be discussed about this documentary and I thank the filmmaker, his team/crew, PBS and POV for creating and airing it. The road to peace and love is through understanding and exploring life and culture, those of our own people as well as that of others and I am thankful to have had this peak into the life of a few Chinese people – from THEIR POINT OF VIEW. POV: I’ll always appreciate your work and that of those you provide a platform to!
    Thank you for helping me remain gratefully humbled and aware…

  • http://homeisbigskycountry.blogspot.com Sharon

    FOREIGNID: 17597
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This was a great documentary – China is still a very mysterious land to me, so the video insight into the country is great. I think the figure for the one area was 31 million people – being from Montana that is very hard to fathom :)
    I was especially thankful for the video of the ellderly Chinese woman as she prayed. What a wonderful and surprising part of the documentary – and to see the cross on the wall was great. Her humble prayer was very inspiring, and I agree with other commenters that we have so much in the U.S., even in difficult economic times….

  • Sara

    FOREIGNID: 17598
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Does anyone know how I can contribute money to Yu Shui’s family?

  • Lynn Van Vleet

    FOREIGNID: 17599
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I cannot possibly improve upon some of the more eloquent praise above. I cry for Cindy’s family and all those who found themselves in the same situation, to be so displaced after a lifetime of farming .. with nothing left. And yet, uniike the ‘me’ spirit of her in the US, even the poorest felt the damming was for the country’s greater good. We can only learn from these incredible people!
    And as others requested, I so hope you post a site for contributions to Cindy’s education and help for her family.

  • sean

    FOREIGNID: 17600
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    as i watched this documentary i could see some of me in it in some ways. i came from a poor family in the heart of a inter city and i remember the struggles to rise above. You can see where these kids came from, but what a transformation they made and all they needed was the right person to believe in them. They are only asking for the same thing we all want and that is a fair chance. Yung chang Has done a masterful job. He didn’t try to dress up this film or give it a special packageing, he simply let the story tell its-self and what a powerful story it is..

  • Lana

    FOREIGNID: 17601
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Outstanding and moving film of deep insight. I was moved by the physical and emotional migration of Yu Shui’s family and the impact it would have on the entire family. I feel the transition to life aboard ship for Yu Shui will have very positive benefits, due to the integrity of her family. It is not the continuing education she desired but, I feel it will have positive effects for her as well as open many doors of opportunity. The closing scenes beginning with last farewell of Yu Shui and her parents to the transitional flooding of their home…Genius. Thank you so much for sharing your great insight into the lives of these beautiful people and the ever changing China. Kindest regards~

  • Marilisa

    FOREIGNID: 17602
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Incredible film. And heartbreaking (I will be more than willing to say I cried!). Incredible film, I love the way the filmaker covers everything to help the viewers who does not fully comprehend the magnatude. If there’s an award out there, you should get it!
    I’m an avid reader of China’s past history, working my way up the centuries, and I had off and on read about this dam, knowing that there would be some impact on ancient artifacts and old villages and temples, but I have never fully understood the vastness of this project. Shame on China for doing this in the name of development! There must have been other ways to accomplish the same goal, but without destroying the RIver! Ah, but I suppose humans do funny things sometimes in the name of development, and China does not stand alone there. On the other side of the coin, its great they are moving the country up, but I do wish they would help the poor a little more.

  • Matt Fiocca

    FOREIGNID: 17603
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    After flipping through the channels, like so many others, i stumbled across pbs and caught the tail end of this piece just in time to gain a little more appreciation and respect for what’s going on in other regions. After seeing the plug for this website at the end of the film i rushed to my laptop to send my 2 cents. I was very moved by this film. I never rush to my laptop to say my cents. Nice work Yung Chang and many thanks to pbs for getting in front of me.

  • Alfred Willson

    FOREIGNID: 17604
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I may have missed it or the film neglected to state what Cindy’s family was compensated for their land and home. They were provided with another place to live, it seemed, but I missed the specifics… that would have been informative. While the father lamented that the government did not care about a peasant, he ended up in a house that would last longer than the one he originally owned, when the big bad wolf came to huff and puff… The Tennessee Valley Authority displaced many similar people in an originally controversial project, that most people now take for granted. Nice film and interesting subject.

  • H

    FOREIGNID: 17605
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This movie touched me deeply. Though millions of Chinese were affected by the building of the dam, the movie makes me want to know what happened to Yu Shui’s family and how I could help them personally. My heart breaks for the people who had to sacrifice their homes and traditions for the government’s dam. As Mother nature is a strong force that cannot be contained, China’s underlying tragedy is the government’s failure to heed her will.

  • Songhao

    FOREIGNID: 17606
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I work in the field of science, not social science, so perhaps I think a little differently. As Chang said, there is the social and environmental impacts on the local scale, most of which are negative, but on a broader scale, it enormously benefits the environment. Just think about the amount coal and oil that will be saved by such a huge hydroelectric project. The sheer amount in the reduction of the greenhouse gas emission. It is more than Canada meeting the Kyoto target by now. In a sense, the Three Gorges would make more of a difference than Dion’s Green Shift plan. (I am a Chinese Canadian like Chang.) Needless to say, it saves the offsteam the potential threat of a major flood like that of 1998. Over all I agree that the Three Gorges does not serve the local population, but it may serve China and the globe. Of course, when it comes to judgement on an issue like this, it all depends on the perspective.

  • Richard Williams

    FOREIGNID: 17607
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    In August of 1978, a group of, mostly American, international school teachers received visas to travel for about one month through China. Our group was introduced to a China that had not seen tourists in a very long time and did not have the infrastructure it does now. We did not have cell phones, video cameras or the internet. We traveled like other Chinese citizens traveled (all though we were under constant surveillance by our assigned “party” guides) going to places where everyone was permitted and usually having some contact with the local people in all areas. Our hotels were often army facilities and/or old structures built many years before by the Russians. The trip was enlightening and fascinating. We felt like we were witnessing many old customs and traditions that had survived all the turmoils of war and revolution We marveled at the old arts and crafts methods and impressive structures that had not been “rehabiliated” for the western tourists. We saw ancients customs still being carried out by everyday people as they had been for thousands of would carry years. Most of us thought that changes would come, but that the Chinese would not let rampant crazed consumerism erupt among their citizens. How things change.
    Your video story illuminates what consumerism and capitalism can do to something as old and genuine as China. The places and people we saw 30 years ago are gone, replaced by people who “seem” to be interested in the progress all around them ( but I think are saying that only because the party line is now about economic growth and not about the Chinese as a people). True, the new Chinese are able to participate in the global economy and develop their own brand of frantic consumerism, but what happened to the China we saw in the 70′s. After watching the end of the program and the slow drowning of everything the shore couple had known, I understood. The old China, the one with the fierce pride in their culture and the old way of doing things is gone. Progress is what’s important now. The old is not important, only prgoress and racing to join the giant consuming world. Pity, the old China was so much more.

  • Lois Robin

    FOREIGNID: 17608
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.
    I was a tourist on one of those cruise boats in 2001 before the flooding of the Yangtze. I notice the sun still does not come out very much, and when it does it cannot make it through the haze of pollution. The environmental damage to China as well as the social and cultural damage from this treatment of the River are beyond conceptualization. Just as well that the filmmaker brings it down to some curious and well meaning tourists being served by those who are already disadvantaged by China’s shortr sighted policies. As a tourist, I didn’t think at all about those who were serving me. Now I do.

  • Pat F.

    FOREIGNID: 17609
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was very intrigued, and then moved, by this film. Yu Shui’s plight, that of a young girl having to leave all that she has known, the family that she loves, to work in a completely different environment, while her home faces destruction, was tragic. Yet I did see hope, while Yu Shui did face a difficult time; she learned English, which will hopefully be helpful to her in later years. I liked it that the other workers seemed to be helpful to her. “Jerry” was quite arrogant; I did not feel the same sympathy for him.
    I am at least relieved that the desperate circumstances of Yu Shui and her family have been alleviated; that she and her siblings are in school and her father has the medical help he needed. Their story is fascinating.

  • angel

    FOREIGNID: 17610
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    i just finished watching this documentary. i am not a big fan of documentary videos.but this one caught my attention, it reminded of my home country (also in asia), and realizing how blessed we are to be here in the US and have a better life than those kids who work for living. Great job for the film maker!
    God bless!

  • Adrian

    FOREIGNID: 17611
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This was such a wonderful film. One of the tourists on the boat had on a Beijing Olympics cap which reminded me of what we have heard about the olympics. Citizens are displaced by the Chinese governement for the “greater good” and prosperity of the country, essentially sacrificed. The part that spoke to me was when the man who owned a shop was explaining about others arguing again about relocation and how they should just accept it, like perhaps he has done. But then he goes on to say that it’s hard being a commoner in China, hardly able to finish his thought and starts to cry, almost out of nowhere, and says how they have to bribe the officials or they get beaten and dragged out of their homes. This is not the way a government should treat its people.

  • Sharon

    FOREIGNID: 17612
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Powerful! Awesome!

  • Kelle

    FOREIGNID: 17613
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I don’t think that most people realize how a situation like this could change someones life forever and not always for the good. Throughout watching this film I felt so many different emotions at one tiime. This film shows that all people, no matter where they are, go through tough times. It really showed how strong they are and that they stick togerther as a people. I know that one day many people will be able to benefit from watching this film. It was such a wonderful experience for me.

  • Marilyn

    FOREIGNID: 17614
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    extremely well done! one of the best programs I’ve ever seen on TV!

  • Edward & Mary Zurawski

    FOREIGNID: 17615
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    We did the Yangtze River cruise back in 1997 and watching the documentary was especially interesting to us. Our river boat was not as nice as the one depicted but we enjoyed the entire cruise. We’ve been on over 20 cruises all over the world and the Yangtze is a the top of our list.
    What we viewed did not surprise us but we really enjoyed watching the show.
    Thank you

  • Joe O’Brien

    FOREIGNID: 17616
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links. I want to congratulate filmmaker Yung Chang on his poignant story of a family in crisis. Up the Yangtze is a story of the closing of the river and the opening of change in one family that is repeated in thousands of families in uncountable locales. Having made a film in China closley following the dissolution of the cultural Revolution, I know the many obstacles he faced and how shrewdly he weaved his film. It reminds me of a film I made in London regarding a South African Doctor living in exile. The parents were constantly enmeshed in their homeland-their Yangtze, while the teenage children moved to an English life daily. A word of advice……Plan a follow up film on the family in five years or so. Yang Chang and I, already know its outcome, and in terspersed with scenes from “Up the Yangtze” it will be another moving experience

  • maureen

    FOREIGNID: 17617
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This was a wonderful point of view, I was rivited. I think Yung Chang did an awesome piece of work in showing the struggle that goes on above and below “deck” Between seeing moments of human pathos, brief moments of
    simplicity (kittens and ducks) wove a harmony of nature into this film.
    I would be interested to know what became of the older christian lady in the film. I am also pleased to see that the chinese people are now more able to protest their lot in life. Whether it does any good, I don’t know, but the doors to truth have been opened.

  • Margaret

    FOREIGNID: 17618
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This film is hauntingly beautiful. Yu Shui’s tears and quiet humility were so touching. As normal as it is for any teen to be embarrassed of his/her parents (no matter what class or culture you are a part of), I hope and am almost certain that with maturity, she will come to realize the true greatness of her father and mother. They persevere.

  • Peggy

    FOREIGNID: 17619
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.
    This is the second time I have seen this film, and I can’t find words to describe my appreciation of the work this represents. Congratulations to all involved in the making of the movie, and to POV for presenting it!

  • Jane

    FOREIGNID: 17620
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I also stumbled upon “Up the Yantze” by chance last night. This film is so POWERFUL that it has left me emotionally disturbed and unsettled still.
    This film led me into the minds and souls of those people who live along the Yantze river. I certainly understand the minds of Cindy’s parents. It echos the words of my own parents. This film led me into the mind of this money driven, spoiled new generation of young communist who is heading the wrong way on “the value of life”. It was shocking to hear his comments about whom he would choose to serve or help. The manager of the cruise hit the nail right on the head about this youngster. He has much much more to learn about “sociology of life” and the young man obviously flunk the first course on the ship of “sociology of life.” But then, would a manager or a trainer in the western world tell the trainee like it is?
    As for the Westerners on the ship, I can understand their mind set. Getting on a cruise, seeking for the old China that no longer exists. It makes me think twice about wanting to go on a cruise in China. Yes, being a Chinese who has lived more than half of my life in the States, I wanted to see what China is like now. But, I am not sure looking at the skyscrapers and the city night life makes me feel proud. I certainly was saddened by witnessing the extreme poverty of millions of people who live on the land where my ancesters once did.
    Being a speech language pathologist, I was also very intrigued by the English lessons being taught by the manager on the cruise. I wish Houston PBS could put this film on the air again, so I can inform hundreds of my friends to watch it. It is too POWERFULL to miss!

  • Joe O’Brien

    FOREIGNID: 17621
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.
    I love this film and applaud Yung Chang. He is very definetly a “people” story teller.. Documentary Filmmakers are oiften obliged to shift gears and find a new direction to tell their story.
    The scenes of brewing anger between Cindy and her parents at the river house, the tears of the shopkeeper and the obvious embarassment on Cindy’s face and body language, as her parents meet with her supervisor, are priceless.
    There must be a follow up film in years to come. I for one want to know if the Dam does what it is expected to do for China, I want to know the fate of the resettled people, but most of all about Cindy-the new China, and her parents the old. Bravo Yung Chang.

  • http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2008/uptheyangtze/update.html Simon Kilmurry

    FOREIGNID: 17622
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    A number of people have asked how they can support Yu Shui . Please see the Update section of the film’s website at http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2008/uptheyangtze/update.html
    The filmmaker has established a fund on GiveMeaning.com, and he notes in the Update:
    “Since May 2008, with donations received through GiveMeaning.com, we have assisted in payment for Mr. Yu’s eye operations. We have paid for the Yu children’s high school tuition. I am hoping that with your generous contributions, we will be able to establish a long-term fund for the family. I would also like to assist other subjects in my film who need help. If you have seen Up the Yangtze and feel compelled, I encourage your participation in this very simple gesture of support. Yu Shui’s father makes the equivalent of $200 CAD / year.”

  • Cheryl

    FOREIGNID: 17623
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I stumbled upon this last night, not knowing what I was watching. This film has touched me in a way that no other film has. As the mother of an 8 year old adopted from China at 2 it is overwhelming to think how different her life might have been. I have always had great respect for the birth parents of my daughter and the struggles that led to her abandonment. For those critics who say that she was given up “just because she is a girl” this film illustrates the complexities of the issue. As Yu Shui’s mother states, you would not exploit your child if you had a choice. An old Chinese woman told me while watching my daughter and I at the park one day “she will never have to make the choices her first mother made”. We can hope for YuShui and others that one day they will also have the choice to not make the choices her mother had to make. We will be contributing to YuShui’s fund, thank you for making such a powerful film.

  • Cheryl

    FOREIGNID: 17624
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I stumbled upon this last night, not knowing what I was watching. This film has touched me in a way that no other film has. As the mother of an 8 year old adopted from China at 2 it is overwhelming to think how different her life might have been. I have always had great respect for the birth parents of my daughter and the struggles that led to her abandonment. For those critics who say that she was given up “just because she is a girl” this film illustrates the complexities of the issue. As Yu Shui’s mother states, you would not exploit your child if you had a choice. An old Chinese woman told me while watching my daughter and I at the park one day “she will never have to make the choices her first mother made”. We can hope for YuShui and others that one day they will also have the choice to not make the choices her mother had to make. We will be contributing to YuShui’s fund, thank you for making such a powerful film.

  • don mcgregor

    FOREIGNID: 17625
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    late this evening i noticed your show,wow,so real,and I appreciate so much.. is emotional for me,last year.,near Guilin,I had a incident,while alone,was assisted by a group of 3 chinese ladies,till i left 1 wk later.One of ladies,is now my fiancee. In ashort time,with them,i learn,so much of China,people and culture… Similiarily,I met their aging parents,in poor farm areas,but what a beautiful adventure,,I will return to marry,and then spent many months each year there. China and people ,are a once in a lifetime,to apreciate,…your film,was so well done,and brings tears of joy and sadness,…..you are special to have done project and more so by assisting the young ladsy and family……..I am a 66 yr old canadian,from Kamloops area…..

  • melanie Zoller

    FOREIGNID: 17626
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was mesmerized by this film and by all of the characters. If anyone can search and find the book “A single Pebble” by John Hersey published in 1956, they will read a book as fascinating as the documentary.
    It is the story of an Young American engineer who was sent to China to investigate the possibility of damning the the “Great River” as the Chinese called it. He took a trip up the Yangtze on a junk, a journey that would change his life.

  • Roberto Kong

    FOREIGNID: 17627
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was strucked by the human elements of this film particularly by the prayer of an old woman for China and its youth. It’s surreal to see an old Christian woman praying in that part of China. The prayer conveyed the cultural decay and perhaps the spritual decline that’s pervasive in modern China. The Such a tragedy that a massive undertaking of the Three Gorges Dam has brought so much collateral damages to the landscape, ancient heritage, to the people along the Yand Tze river. Is it possible for me to write to that elderly woman?

  • Kahla

    FOREIGNID: 17628
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    After the glitz and glam of the Beijing Olympics, this film provided real insight into the ongoing challenges facing the continuing modernization of China. Although this film took a microscopic focus on two individuals coping with finding work in a volatile and changing environment, the movie was able to skillfully comment on present some of the diverse issues surrounding the building of the Yangtze dam. A truly fascinating documentary!

  • joseph o’brien

    FOREIGNID: 17629
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I want to congratulate filmmaker Yung Chang on his poignant story of a family in crisis. Up the Yangtze is a story of the closing of the river and the opening of change in one family that is repeated in thousands of families in uncountable locales. Having made a film in China closley following the dissolution of the cultural Revolution, I know the many obstacles he faced and how shrewdly he weaved his film. It reminds me of a film I made in London regarding a South African Doctor living in exile. The parents were constantly enmeshed in their homeland-their Yangtze, while the teenage children moved to an English life daily. A word of advice……Plan a follow up film on the family in five years or so. Yang Chang and I, already know its outcome, and interspersed with scenes from “Up the Yangtze” it will be another moving experience

  • http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2008/uptheyangtze/update.html Karl

    FOREIGNID: 17630
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Having cruised the Yangtze for 4 days in the spring on the very boat in the film, I have to say the film was spot on in what it tried to convey. Viewing it last night, it really helped to reinforce my observations and put my recollections in perspective. All the Chinese we encountered tried to put a “happy face” on everything, but one could see around the polished edges and glimpse what was really happing. This film is a masterful commentary on contemporay China. Well Done!

  • Michael McNabb

    FOREIGNID: 17631
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    As I watch this film I could see how peple are the same all over the this planet, we wont for our loved ones to have more out of life than what we have obtaned. My out look on peple from deferent country’s has been changed, we truly are deferent, yet we are the same. What we look at today as a burdon tomorrow will be some one else’s blessing, as sad as this made me for the displaced famly’s, I was joyful for there next generation. You may use HTML tags for style and links.

  • Annie

    FOREIGNID: 17632
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I loved this documentary. Im so glad it was made, It really inspired me to do better and I know Im so fortunate to be living in a good home in America.
    Please do more documentaries like this. I loved it so much!

  • pete

    FOREIGNID: 17633
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Great documentary about the Yangtze last night, but I couldn’t help but come away thinking once again how rotten spoiled we are, which put my thoughts towards the continuous comments on how Americans have been suffering so much.
    Spoiled Americans need to spend a week with that girl’s family. It’s obvious to me how spoiled Americans don’t really know how miserable life can be, or have surely forgotten.
    All Americans need first hand to see these impoverished nations like I have and seen with my own eyes, homeless children sleeping on cardboard boxes in corners of doorways and spending their waking hours begging for food, instead of being in school getting an education and after hours going to soccer practice.
    Yet, here we are crying about the home crisis that not the banks, but ourselves have created by living way over our means. Blame the Banks, blame Wall Street, blame the current administration, everybody’s to blame except ourselves. It’s time to look in the mirror.
    Condemn Capitalism and the free market place as the reason, but remember the one cruise employee in the documentary, who quoted a current saying by the Chinese that really tells it all. There was a Chinese man and an American driving and they came to a fork in the road where one way said Socialism and the other way Capitalism and the American chose the road to Capitalism, but the Chinese man says “I’ll put the turn signal to the left, but I’ll go the road to Capitalism too!
    Why is it we look at Capitalism as something so evil, yet immigrants are dying to come here to get a piece of it? Only when they are in their country they say it’s evil, but of course it’s out of envy, because they don’t have what we have. Why should we feel guilty about wanting the best and most out of life and when we get it be proud of the accomplishment? Then go about empowering others to do the same, rather than give handouts. Even the Chinese are realizing this, but of course can’t admit it, because that would once again prove that in theory, Communism and Socialism sound great, but in reality they don’t work.

  • L

    FOREIGNID: 17634
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just happened to turn to PBS and saw this movie and was transfixed until the end. It made me think about all the times I have thought of my own plights, which are not plights at all. What a beautifully told story. Opened my eyes and heart of how others in the world adapt and manage. Thank you for this film.

  • Rachid M

    FOREIGNID: 17635
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    What a great movie. i watched it last night and was really amazed by the survival story..i sympathize a lot with the family. i myself went through though times like that at some point in my life.
    I tell all my friends every time how lucky we are to have what we have..you dont really know it unless you come from a different country or visited one .
    i need to know please if there’s some way to be able to help the family.
    i am glad to know the father had the eye surgery and that he is doing well
    thank you again , god bless.

  • Jean Vondriska

    FOREIGNID: 17636
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was in China three years ago and did a river cruise on the Yangtze. Our ship was not nearly as luxurious as the ship in your film. Howeer it did give me a real feel for the true China. In addition to the human element involved in the rising of the river, there are so many ancient tombs, artifacts, etc. that will be lost forever. As one who has been interested in China since I was very small, this loss is almost more than any civilization should be asked to endure. And of course the relocation of millions is almost more than any human can tolerate. The relocation village in the film looked quite nice. But when I was in Fengdu and visited a relocation village, the conditions were quite miserable. In spite of the sadness and pain of both the country and citizens it is indeed a wonderful place. I would go back without hesitation. The Chinese people were delightful and anxious to become a friend to all. Thank you so much for this beautiful film. No amount of great filmmaking can express the beauty of the Yangtze and the feeling of sailing down this magnificent and ancient river. Thank you.

  • Huasteca

    FOREIGNID: 17637
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Wow!!!!!!!!
    That film was so powerful I couldn’t go to sleep after I watched … just thinking that we are so spoiled in this Country…we have to stop complaining about unimportant things. My heart goes to the family and I do admire “Cindy” for her courage, I now in my heart that she will achieve her goals.

  • Jp

    FOREIGNID: 17638
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    What a wonderful film! How comforting it is to know that, many years from now, someone will watch it and then reflect upon it. This imagined viewer will marvel at the drive of the human spirit to adapt to and survive inexorable change as much as they will be impressed by the human ability to master complex technology and manipulate nature on such a massive scale. I feel a deep affection for those in the film who so trusted Yung Chang that they shared moments of real intimacy with total strangers. I wonder if they now realize what a powerful act of communication that can be. I wish them well. And….congratulations to Yung Chang and his crew for creating such a beautiful vehicle for his friends to travel in as they join the flow of the great river of China’s history.

  • Paul

    FOREIGNID: 17639
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Hi! can anyone remember that quote of Confucius in this film ? Thanks,Paul.

  • http://www.pbs.org/pov Andrew Catauro

    FOREIGNID: 17640
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Hi Paul,
    The quote which begins Up the Yangtze is:
    By three methods may we learn wisdom:
    First, by reflection. which is noblest;
    second, by imitation, which is easiest;
    and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.
    —孔夫子 Confucius

  • http://http Ann Tylaska

    FOREIGNID: 17641
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Up the Yangtze was an excellent documentary. Please showcase more films by Yung Chang. He really is a marvelous director.

  • Ginny Braxler

    FOREIGNID: 17642
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I missed the beginning, but was fascinated by the part I saw. The girl, Cindy, who was concerned for her father who would have to move. The poignant scene at the end where the hut they had occupied disappeared into the rising river. Progress. And the end of a simpler, though harsher, era. I want to know more. How will these people survive, who barely eked out subsistence living where they were, now having to pay for vegetables and water. What will happen to them? No wonder Cindy was concerned. A beautiful and well thought out film. Thank you Mr. Chang for showing me that the Chinese are just like all of us. Living life. Working for the best life we can.

  • Kyle Merriam

    FOREIGNID: 17643
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This was an amazing look at the contemporary aspects of “higher” and “lower” society in china. I knew that life was becoming more and more of a struggle for the world but

  • Divine One Consecrated to God

    FOREIGNID: 17644
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Such a beautiful thought provoking film. The scene on the cruise ship when Yu Shui (Cindy) and Chen Bo Yu (Jerry) were renamed was heart wrenching for me. Why do we as Americans continue to allow people of other cultures to rename themselves for our convenience? Why do we not speak up and insist that they retain their own cultures. I have ancestors who were renamed. I sorrowfully wish this had not occurred.
    When we travel we are ambassadors. People believe that the West is the sum of characteristics they see in us. When we meet someone who has been renamed it takes just a minute to ask them their given name, to learn it, and to call them by it. When we do so, we affirm them as who they really are, and accept them as such, as equals. When we refuse to take time to know them as themselves, we rob them of their culture. And isn’t their culture the real reason we want to know them in the first place?
    On the flip side, Chen Bo Yu, seemed so oddly Western to me. He would blend very well at our local university. He is a young 19, but the way he was verbally disciplined seemed fit for that culture but would not be accepted here. If he had been plucked and dropped into the Midwest, he would be seen as confident, goal oriented and ambitious. I do not know of only children being criticized for such in this country. It is not an issue one has a choice in making.
    I am hanging by my nails for the follow up to this film! Oscar…well worthy!!!
    Almost forty years ago I was introduced to the Yangtze as a child. That book is available online at http://www.vidyaonline.net/arvindgupta/ping.pdf in an illustrated PDF form. It is also available at any local or national bookstore chain by walk in or online. Named “THE STORY OF PING” By Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese It also makes an interesting snapshot of how perceptions have changed in forty years, even for children.

  • Diane Perry

    FOREIGNID: 17645
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I have not been able to get the film out of my mind. The beauty of the land and the river were in constant hard contrast with the subsistence farm life endured by the family. Fulfilling the family’s day-to-day basic needs sapped the parents’ total energy. Yet they were torn between the family’s need for
    Yu Shui to bring in money and their desire to give her the education she so desperately wanted. And Yu Shui herself was a child with ideas about a better life for the family positioned against a need to leave and go out on her own. Her fear of leaving home and her later homesickness were heartbreaking.Yet, she began to blossom below decks by improving at her job and building self-confidence.
    “Jerry”, on the other hand, had a sense of entitlement rarely seen outside of the 20 something generation currently taking over the United States. No surprise that he wouldn’t succeed. The thrill he got from having USD30 was a telling peek into a vacant, self-centered soul. I was glad to learn he found a position on another cruise ship.
    The metaphorical presentation of the film was artfully executed, evoking sadness for what will slip beneath the Yangtze’s surface and hope that what springs up along the new banks will be of benefit to all of China, but escpecially the peasants along the river. I am fearful yet in awe of the Project and truly hope the Chinese planned for many different contingencies.
    To sum it up, “Up the Yangtze” is an exquisite, sensitive and stark glimpse of the balancing act of old and new China.

  • Barton H.

    FOREIGNID: 17646
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Terrific film! I feel for Yu Shui’s family. Best of luck to them. Chen Bo needs to go ahead and move to America. He’d fit in well here.

  • Ted

    FOREIGNID: 17647
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you Mr. Chang for making the film and pbs for showing it. I am intrigued by the symbolic elements in the film such as the historic and significant Yangtze was literally divided into two. The new China is agressively on the march and floods right over its past, just like numurous other civilizations that built right on top of their ancestors’ cities and towns throughout human history. And in the midst of this man-made evolution, Mr. Chang shows us how Cindy and Jerry, the new generations of China signified by their American names, adapts to the changes in their environment. How they are taught to view the western world, american in particular and how they learn it on their own. It’s mind blowing trying to put things into perspective. Things such as the issues American teens face; things such as the extraordinary opening of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. And the one question that I run into again and again: to go far and achieve big, do we always have to sacrifice the few, as few as million of people, small and weak families for the better of the one bigger family?

  • Gail

    FOREIGNID: 17648
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Just 10 minutes ago, I finished watching “Up the Yangtze”–one of the most compelling documentaries I’ve ever seen on TV. So sad, so heroic, so ironic. And so many themes–culture, change, big politics, little people, the river of life, the price of “prosperity.” So much hard work by a family to yield so little. Please remind me of “Up the Yangtze” if I ever complain about anything again! Thank you Yung Chang.
    P.S. Please let us know if Cindy Yu Shui graduates from high school.

  • han

    FOREIGNID: 17649
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for sharing such a great film. Such microcosm has been easily forgotten by Chinese and Western. In many ways, the metaphors in this film should continue to be discussed and explored. I think I will never forget some of the dialogues I heard in this film. Mr. Chang has done a great job to remind me that there isn’t a life that is too small even in a county like China.

  • Dawn Huso

    FOREIGNID: 17650
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Mr. Chang:
    I would like to know why social justice so escapes the Chinese culture? It would seem the country people know what justice is, why do government people at all levels work against their own people?

  • CChisolm

    FOREIGNID: 17651
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I stumbled upon this documentary and wow, what an eye opener! I am so much more grateful for the little that I have, and I”ve realized that my struggles are nothing. As I watched my daughter sleep, I had to lean over and kiss her again and wished that “Cindy” and her parents will one day be able to embrace each other…and I think they will.
    Blessings to the entire family!

  • Pete S

    FOREIGNID: 17652
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    There is an awakening within China that is available for the entire world to see. This film provides but a glimmer of the beginning as an elder civilization journies on what will be another long march. I heard the old man speak of his country now so prosperous and capable to be able to harness the great river. And within his voice I heard the knowledge that he was indeed a part of this undertaking. A year ago I stood at Three Gorges, at the end of my ‘three days’ on the Yangtze. My sincerest compliments to Yung Chang and his entire production staff for this achievement.

  • Chad

    FOREIGNID: 17653
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    After I have finished my Petroleum Systems Engineering degree I will travel to China with my neighbour, who is studying Chinese and Japanese, and we will help the poor locals. I plan to distribute my income and my neighbour will act as a translator. I wish I could go there now, and not in 5 years.

  • mary bullock

    FOREIGNID: 17654
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This is one of the finest documentaries I’ve ever seen, anywhere. The filmmakers succeeded in telling a story as big as China in intimate, human terms as small as the few moments of their lives the Chinese individuals shared with us.
    Mary Bullock, New York

  • Marty Naucler

    FOREIGNID: 17655
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I think it was a heartrendering experience to watch this film. It is projects like this that should make us able to see how fortunate people in canada and elsewhere truly are. I pray earnestly for Yu Shui,. and her family,. and her daily struggle, in a society that seems to have forgotten them, and so many others,. we need to help and support this family,. and others. I cannot say express in words how deeply this film has effected me.

  • TonyP4

    FOREIGNID: 17656
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Cindy showed the human side and many posters express same. She did not know how much she has and how great her parents are. I do not know how much more her parents can give her. I felt bad when she was apparently ashamed of her parents when they’re in the boat. Even in her poor conditions, she knew she need more education. There is hope in her and China.

  • nancy

    FOREIGNID: 17657
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I stumbled on this film while channel surfing & became total consumed with it. This film evoked allot of emotions & truly hit close to home. As a Chinese American I’ve only heard stories about China but never been there myself . My dad was a farmer & told me stories of his struggles in China. While watching this film I was able to see bit’s & pieces of my fathers stories come to life. I will think twice before I complain about anything.

  • joan

    FOREIGNID: 17658
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Amazing! I lived in China 6 years ago and everything I noticed, was astonished, upset, or confused by is just even more magnified in the light of the rising river and the uncertain future awaiting millions of people like the Yu family. They captured the real China – the dichotomy, the heartache but also the spirit of moving forward and doing the best they can every day to live.

  • Elizabeth Chen

    FOREIGNID: 17659
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    My husband and I enjoyed this film very much – very realistic. Please, someone make a film about the ordinary people in the United States and show it in China.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/noizwav Sean C

    FOREIGNID: 17660
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    It is humbling for me to better understand the most basic struggles of a common farmer, being displaced in China. I can’t help but feel that communism has failed the invisible citizens at the bottom of the economic food chain, and yet I’m left with an odd feeling in my gut about the tourists floating atop it all.
    Odder stll about the perception of westen culture and our positive/negative influence. I often wonder what it wouldbe like to cast off the shackles of this culture of debt. Tonight I’m enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich & instant soup with great appreciation.

  • Brad Keil

    FOREIGNID: 17661
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I don’t think I can add much to what has already been writen in these commentaries, however I feel the need to share the success this director/producer achieved. What stood out in my mind was the contrast of the wealthy and the most depraved of humans neither understanding each other or even wanting to. For the wealthy, they want to live in a make believe world so as to enjoy their vacation, and for the employees they are to create that dillussion for them to etch out a meger living. It wasn’t exactly fair to protray the wealthy as the undeserving priviledged because we don’t know how they accumilated their wealth. They were all elderly and could have worked sixteen hour days in a very uncomfortable environment to achieve their wealth over a fifty year period. But at the same time we are faced with the disturbing fact that it is not always how hard one works in one’s lifetime that creates wealth and priviledge. It is the opportunities that life does or doesn’t bring. The fact that Yu Shui was not born tall, pretty and with charisma kept her down below away from the guest. It had nothing to do with how hard she did or didn’t work. It is that unfairness in life that frustrates and scares all of us. Don’t be fooled, America has it’s class system as well. We are just better at disquising it. I find comfort in the Word of God that says in the end it won’t be the beautiful and priviledged people that will be first in heaven, but the last shall be first.

  • Carol

    FOREIGNID: 17662
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I hope someone on the film crew rescued that poor little starving kitten.

  • rubin pham

    FOREIGNID: 17663
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    this is one of the best documentary i have seen.
    to me, this is the reason i always prefer to see a documentary over the typical holywood movie.
    the producer and director have done a great job.
    thank you for your works.

  • Dulene

    FOREIGNID: 17664
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I have lived in China, and this film made me want to cry, because it is so honest, and hits at deep truths with simple language and profound images of the daily lives of common Chinese citizens. I loved that statement regarding foreigners, how they seemed to be coming in order to see a China that no longer exists. I was one of these people. Even though I grew to appreciate aspects of the current China, I wanted to cry for what was ancient that was lost – not only in terms of architecture, but also of spirit. History should leave its ghosts, but the modernization of China has somehow even managed to kill intangible spirits. I guess we always have the movies…

  • Carole

    FOREIGNID: 17665
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    A wonderful documentary. I was with a tour on the same Yangtze River cruise ship with the film crew in October 2006. I too found the movie on PBS accidently. I’m very glad that I got a chance to see it. It was very moving and we found out a little more about the real China. I am happy to read that Cindy and her brother and sister were able to go to school. It was good to see some of our cruise mates and even a glimpse of my friend and myself. We enjoyed our time with Campbell and the crew (all of them being very friendly) I admired how hard they tried to speak English and wished that I could speak some Chinese. Our server was Yo Yo and we would be very interested to know what she is doing now.
    Again, this was a well-done film showing the contrasts in people’s lives. It was much more moving than I had imagined.

  • Garik

    FOREIGNID: 17666
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Why has my commentary been deleted?

  • yanique forbes

    FOREIGNID: 17667
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    i have never been this touch by a human experience until i saw this film. It has envoke many feeling that are good and bad about society as a whole and its perseption of what perfection is. God has bless us with so much and we have taken advantage of his love. I am from a third world country myself and in comparasion, it is not as bad. I have learn a very valuable lesson from this film. Which is, that like many others before me, have had a oppurtinity to learn and to strive. We have become americanize and feel sort of previlaged. We must take full opportunity of what this great country offers and never forget where we came from and how hard our parent fought for there American dreams. We need to sow the seed of knowledge to our kids to promote their successes. Live for god and love with mo restraints. God is love and we are all his people. No matter what.

  • Janet Gaines

    FOREIGNID: 17668
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I would like to congradulate Yung Chang for his poignant masterpiece “Up The Yangtze”. I am pleased that funds have been created to allow Yu Shui a chance to attend High School and to provide assistance for her family. My heart was especially touched by the prayer of the elderly Christian lady. I would like to offer some financial assistance for her. Can you help me do this? Thank you for this enlightening message- for telling the stories that help us to understand and to care.

  • Melanie

    FOREIGNID: 17669
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    It seemed a bit strange to here what Chen Bo Yu was saying during the filming. Don’t you think is anyone found out what he was saying he would be fired. The film seemed to be taking advantage of a young man who didn’t think about how his views in the documentary could affect his life.
    His ideas made me sad, a young man, who has the hopes of his family riding on his shoulders. I also feel powerless and reminded that there are so many people living pay check to pay check without an education that can give them real security.

  • Ruth

    FOREIGNID: 17670
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    An amazing and elegant film.

  • Bob G

    FOREIGNID: 17671
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I too was fascinated by this film and the Yu Shui Family.
    I found it particularly sad that there was no showing of affection between mother and daughter or father and daughter. This was especially apparent at two times in the film. First when Yu Shui leaves home to go to work on the ship. We see no embraces nor do we see any tears. Later when the father and mother travel to the ship to visit with their daughter there is no contact between them when they arrive nor when they leave, save for a handshake between the daughter and I believe the father.
    It also was clear that when the parents arrived at the ship the parents and their daughter seemed embarrassed. The father especially so because he did not have proper clothing, arriving only in a dirty t-shirt with a few holes in it and the daughter because of the way her parents were dressed and looked – like peasants, which of course they were. The scene was reminiscent of an American teenager being dropped off at school by his parents and being seen by his teenage buddies who drove to school in their own car.
    I was wondering if the lack of affection was a a cultural thing indigenous to China or if it was because the family knew they were being filmed. Was it truly embarrassment that prevented an embrace and made the parents not want to board the ship and Yu not want them to board. She certainly did not encourage it. Had it not been for the ships official imploring the parents to board the ship, I got the feeling that they would have turned around and gone home.
    Many of the comments above expressed a desire to send money to the Shui family and I too would like to do so. I do not want to send it to the the Donation Site on the PBS site. I want it to go directly to the family. Although the question of how to do so was asked numerous times I did not see a response. How can we send money to the family?
    Thank you for a beautiful film.

  • Joe

    FOREIGNID: 17672
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    A very emotional documentary this is. I am still wondering what happened to the ducks, dogs, chickens, and the cats. How many of the misplaced animals were lost.
    I also keep thinking of the pain in the shopkeepers face as he tells whats going on.
    Why was the damn being built in the first place? Does anyone know?

  • DeWayne

    FOREIGNID: 17673
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I particularly appreciate the unique personal approach of this film. China is such a huge country in size, population and age that we tend to think of it and aspects of it, like the Three Gorges Dam, in mega-terms and to lump the people into faceless masses. This film was successful in breaking all of that down to a very human scale, and at the same time telling us something important about the whole of China. This is a major accomplishment that I hope Yung Chang and P.O.V. will be recognized for.
    Like some others before me, I too wondered what happened to the kitten and the geese and ducks. I saw one of the dogs in the new apartment, and I suppose the geese and ducks could make it on the rising river. But I did worry about the kitten.

  • Clair McCord

    FOREIGNID: 17674
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Having recently read “The Man Who Loved China” and “The River at the Center of the World” I was delighted to watch this excellent presentation.
    Kudos! My only critique is that the captioning should have been in yellow
    for easier reading. Thanks for an effort well done.

  • John Gustafson

    FOREIGNID: 17675
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    What a sensitive, powerful, insightful and candid presentation!! My wife and I toured the Yangtze in 2007 on a similar ship. The show captured so much that we saw and so much more that we did not see. This is television documentary at its best and as it should be. But this is more than a documentary. Congratulations to the director, producers and staff. I hope they get the recognition they deserve for bringing “Up the Yangtze” into our home.

  • Bill S

    FOREIGNID: 17676
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I watched the film Up the Yangzee and it made me sad. I am retired from the US Army and I have been in combat a number of times. I actually cried for the loss of this piece of human history. Words do not exist that allow me to express myself. Is this done for the sake of our survival? I wonder if we know, what have we done? Thank you for taking a lens to where I can only imagine. Thank you for sharing your images and visions. I am greatful to have the opportunity to see and hear them, even if only via television.