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The Sand Pebbles, a 1966 film by Robert Wise

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Todd Rutley
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The Sand Pebbles, a 1966 film by Robert Wise

Trigger warning - This film, set in the 1920s and made in the mid 1960s, uses language and character depictions that will offend some people.

The movie was based on Robert McKenna's 1962 book which was inspired by his experience as a US Navy sailor on the Yangtze River during the 1930s. 

How to Use Film?

I have recommended the 1966 film Sand Pebbles to adult students to be watched as homework for a Modern China class.

The film has a powerful emotional impact on students.  It raises many questions about what the US navy was doing in China in the 1920s and what political & social changes were taking place in China. 

Sand Pebbles helps students understand the period of political turmoil in China between the 1910s-1930s.

The movie shows the humiliation of ordinary Chinese under threat by the foreign military powers that acted at will.

The movie shows the chaos and suffering of China towards the end of the Century of Humiliation by foreign powers (1839-1949). 

My favorite quote by Mr. Craddock: "No man who favors the unequal treaties has the right to call himself a Christian!" (Think about it!) 

Conclusion: This film succeeds as teaching material when it causes students to become more interested in Chinese history.