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The Fall of Ming film review

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Denis Vovchenko
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The Fall of Ming film review

I chose to review “The Fall of Ming” (2013) for “East Asia to 1800” I attended in the spring of 2023 (see details in I watched that movie several years ago on the flight to Europe, which suggests that it was distributed widely in the West. I remembered it while reading “The Yangzhou Massacre” excerpt assigned for our Session 10 on May 1. Some short movie scenes may be used in class to help students visualize the document from the Ebrey sourcebook. I would ask students to find similarities and differences in how both sources portray the collapse of the Ming dynasty. The film is ambitious in its attempt to provide a panoramic view of the late Ming society and its manifold problems (which is more helpful than the focus on court intrigues and the demonic chief eunuch as in the more recent 2017 “The Ming Dynasty Assassin”  The challenges include not just the peasant revolt and the Manchu invasion but low morale and corruption on all levels (not just abusive soldiers and commanders but also quartermasters and weapons manufacturers). That depressing picture is accentuated by two leading characters who are exceptional for their integrity – the new commander-in-chief and a doctor tasked with finding a cure against the spreading plague. I am aware of its devastating impact but I also wonder if the plague was symbolic of general malaise.