EAD Finding Aid

 

Finding Aid

Chinese Film and Newsreel Scripts from the Cultural Revolution

Published by IDC Publishers, 2007



Descriptive Summary

Creator Zhong yang xin wen ji lu dian ying zhi pian chang
Title Chinese Film and Newsreel Scripts from the Cultural Revolution
Dates (inclusive): 1946-1985
Abstract: Collection of film advertisements and transcripts of Chinese documentary films and newsreels that spans the years 1946 to 1985. All documents are in Chinese.
Languages: Materials in Chinese
Extent 1750 items (3.0 linear feet); 8 microfilm reels (35 mm)
Order no.: CN-1



Location of Originals

Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, Durham, NC, United States




Historical Note

The Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio was established in 1953. In the beginning, it was a centrally controlled news agency similar to Xinhua or the People’s Daily, and its correspondents were dispatched to all areas of the country. From 1955 onward, the studio was mainly charged with creating newsreels. Other than a small number of feature films, the studio mainly produced newsreels, aired before feature films in cinemas. Thanks to certain technological breakthroughs, the field of global documentary underwent many critical changes, both practical and theoretical, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Yet during the same period in mainland China, information about the outside world of documentary ran up against both ideological and industry roadblocks, a twin set of obstacles. With the spreading of television in China, the Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio was the first to feel the brunt of the rapid rise of the television industry, particularly after television broadcasts of the Network News began in 1978. Because it could reach viewers more quickly, the program made the old studio newsreels largely redundant. In 1992, the Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio ceased production of its news magazine show News Document Exhibit, which in its heyday had enjoyed a nationwide circulation of about three hundred copies per episode. The once-powerful Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio found itself locked in an unprecedented and humiliating downward spiral. Human talent also began to gravitate toward television. In 1993 the Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio was placed under China Central Television leadership.




Scope and Content

The collection of film advertisements and transcripts of Chinese documentary films and newsreels is made up of 1750 items (3.0 linear feet). It spans the years 1946 to 1985, although the bulk of the items in the collection are transcripts for the documentary films and newsreels from the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976. It should also be noted that the dating of the 1946 item is questionable. All documents in the collection are in Chinese. The collection is arranged into the following series: Advertisements and Film Description Series, 1953-1966 and undated; Documentary and Newsreel Scripts Series, 1946 (?)-1985 and undated; Feature Filmscripts Series, undated; and Newspaper Clipping Scrapbook Series, 1950-1959 and undated. Topics include industry, agriculture, the economy, military matters, education, public health care, medicine and science, as well as political movements, foreign relations, cultural and sporting events. Most of the documentary filmscripts are short, focusing on a specific subject or event, whereas newsreel scripts are numbered sequentially within each year and cover multiple topics or events. During the Cultural Revolution, documentary films and newsreels were powerful and popular propaganda tools for patriotism, nationalism, Chairman Mao, the Communist Party, and socialist construction, and served political purposes.

In this collection, there is also a group of printed advertisements and other publicity for Chinese and foreign films, plays, opera, and local performances. Produced mostly by the Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio of China, documentary films and newsreels were two of the major mass media and communication channels in China from the 1950s through 1970s. They covered all aspects of social activities, though the emphasis was on developments and achievements in the building of a socialist country. In order to reach even broader public audiences, government agents produced and printed the transcripts and shot lists for the films and sent them to cities and rural areas.




Organization and Arrangement

Organized into the following series:



Selected Search Terms

Geographic Areas
China--History--1949-1976--Sources.
China--History--Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976--Sources.
China--Politics and government--1949-1976--Sources.
Topics
Communication in politics--China.
Documentary films--China--History and criticism--Sources.
Mass media--Political aspects--China.
Propaganda, Communist--China.
Forms & Genres
Film scripts--China--20th century.
Propaganda--China--20th century.



Custodial History

The Chinese Filmscript and Advertisement Collection was received by the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library as a transfer in 2005. The material in this collection was found in a cinema company office in Henan province, China.




Preferred Citation

Chinese Filmscript and Advertisement Collection, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University.