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Film Review - "The Gate of Heavenly Peace"

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Film Review - "The Gate of Heavenly Peace"

Ironically, the film, documentary really, is called "The Gate of Heavenly Peace", and it is anything but that. A[font=Roboto, arial, sans-serif] 1995 documentary film, produced by Richard Gordon and Carma Hinton, the documentary f[/font]ocuses on student led protests, particularly, the Protests in early June, 1989, the film has a tendency to be a little graphic. Documenting Tiananamen Square as the center of student protests, beginning with the May 4th Movement of 1919, the Square, once a field with waist high weeds, has come to be the center of student-led protests.

There are interviews, actual footage from the days leading up to June 5, and the infamous footage of "Tank Man" himself. There is also, however, footage of wounded students - blood, bandages, and all. Because the documentary is about 3 hours long (yikes!) I definitely would not try to sit and watch the entire thing in one sitting, partly because some of what seem to be the most important parts, interviews and the like, are not translated, making it very difficult to fit together the pieces of the puzzle.

One suggestion, because there is so much in the documentary that teachers can focus on, would be to only show selected parts, and show those parts as they relate to various literary works. The book Animal Farm comes to mind when the film discusses how Chairman Mao came to power. The very thing that he strived to fight against, was what he became. Some referred to him as being emperor- or god-like. In addition, Teachers could also juxtapose these student led protests to those in the United States during the Civil Rights Movement and the Freedom Rides, or even the protests regarding the Vietnam War.

There are several versions of the film available on YouTube, however the one with the most translated into English has been divided into two different parts. The links are as follows:
Part 1 -
Part 2 -

clay dube
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Message from Clay Dube

Outstanding recommendations. I like Nikki's suggestion of pairing this discussion with Animal Farm (see Chinese editions: ). There is an educational version that schools/districts may wish to purchase:


Center for Asian American Media

The main website for the documentary is at: It includes a lot of useful resources for teachers.

Two other films about the Tiananmen demonstrations are: part 3 "Born under the Red Flag" of the China: A Century of Revolution Series

And our film on media coverage of the demonstrations:
also at our YouTube channel:

Finally, you may find this talk about suppression of the history of Tiananmen of use:

A collection of resources: