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“The Gate of Heavenly Peace” Movie by Spence Essay


The Gate of Heavenly Peace describes Chinese social and political revolution that took place in the period between 1895 and 1980. The film fails to focus on many prominent figures; instead, it follows the preferences of Mao Zedong and Sun Yatsen. However, this gives an opportunity to center on the history of China and see how the society was shaped and transformed by the characters featured in the movie. Such a move leads to characterization of such figures as Lu Xun, Li Dazhao, Ding Ling, Chen Duxiu and Hu Shi. Without highlighting specific dates, the author offers ideas and changes presented by intellectual minds for understanding of the occurrences during the political and social transformations in China. The documentary focuses on the 1989 Tiananmen protests and the resulting June 4 Beijing Massacre. The video piece is an exploration of the history of demonstrations with a focus and comments on the political structures, habits and attitudes, which reformed Chinese public life in the 20th Century.

The script of the movie was written in a politically turbulent period when there were many demonstrations and political strife, which resulted in the Qing dynasty’s fall and restlessness of revolutionary factions demanding for cooperation of the warlords and foreign powers and the intrusion of Japan into China. The film shows the virtual colonization of economics by Japanese military and Mao Zedong’s eventual victory. The political environment portrayed in the movie features a turbulent situation in the country and the efforts to preserve the history of China. The movie places the happenings in a period of a memorable historical moment in China, which is significant to all the Chinese and those interested in the history of the country. The social opinion in the film was the following. Some bloodshed should have awakened people to rise up and demand for democracy. There were deaths and casualties happened due to the demonstrations, which resulted only in bloodshed. The Chinese government reported over 8,000 injuries and 300 deaths.

In the efforts for a political revolution in China, the students and workers who occupied the Tiananmen Square had no arms. The intention was to have a nonviolent demonstration but the reaction of the government broke the efforts of the marching people. The result was a massacre in Beijing leaving the efforts for a call of democracy destroyed and irrelevant. Historically, the witnessing of the massacre following the Tiananmen protests need for the protection of human rights, nationalism and reforms in the government. It had been a long struggle to fight for human rights and the call to the students was just an effort to make a wakeup call to the authorities to rethink the statuses of the country. Historically, the country lurked in fear and no chance for freedom of speech. With the results, it was just clear that the reactions held an open testimony regarding the high handedness of the communist era. The leaders did not respect humanity and they cared less for human rights.

Following the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, the movie gives a calm observation regarding the failure to incite an uprising. This shows a miserable outcome of the efforts of unorganized civilians having struggled to achieve democracy. The social spectacle in the demonstration overlooked the chances of failure. The activists forgot the background of the development of Mao Zedong’s kingdom, which had been built due to the efforts of villagers and extension of party branches to all the levels of the society and the army. There was little attention paid to possible reactions from the government to awakening and self-sacrifice, which were the focus of Chinese intellectuals looking for dramatic social changes. The efforts for social change during that period were made in vain since it placed the activists at loggerheads with the government. The students caught up in the scuffle were disorganized, their actions only led to several of them being injured and some people being killed.

In this generation of intellectuals, there were efforts for awakening of the rulers such as the emperor. This is something that led to the drowning of a poet by the name Qu Yuan in an effort for the promotion of social good. Chen Tianhua also killed himself because of a social call as an effort for awakening people with hopes for developing social revolution. The cases are evidently ignorant of the realities in the mechanisms of initiating social change as well as the ideas of the students who, having followed their ideals, overlooked the logical actions to be taken to be ready for the demonstrations. This led to dramatic outcomes, as the blood of young students shed changed nothing in social and political realm. The social hierarchies pushed the Tiananmen Square participants of both sides to react in particular manner. The struggles within the communist parties resulted in the movement in which, without any doubts, soldiers followed the order to kill the students. As much as the demonstrations never brought democracy to China, it was a significant awakening call to the world regarding the happenings in the country. The victims of the demonstrations are significant characters in the history of China because of the impact their efforts had on promoting the democracy in the country.

The characters in the film represent how social forces influenced the decisions of people in the society. The student leader features idea of instilling hope in equality and democracy in the minds of fellow students. This is clearly portrayed in her actions when she asked to held a demonstration on the square in an effort of stirring up a revolution. She is an example of an entrusted person tired of the communist atrocities though there is lack of organization and logic in her efforts of organizing the students in a social force. They lacked a sound doctrine, had no clear objectives and no political strategy that limited the efforts for executing a successful revolution.

As the only driving force of the revolution was the unarmed students, there was vulnerability in the revolution efforts. The students form the representatives of the oppressed China as they lived demeaning lives so even their calls for a change attracted no attention. The demonstration was an effort to promote democracy in the country and excite those interested in social change. The presentation of the bloodshed in the film shows that the demonstrations organized by the students were unwelcome and that the sorrow and pains caused by oppression did not concern the oppressive rulers.

The Gate of Heavenly Peace is a film showing the social divide in the hierarchies in China at the time of demonstrations. The efforts of the students put in demanding for democracy and the response of the soldiers present a strong confirmation to the historical context of the demonstrations. Something that I have learned from these efforts is the moral brevity of the Tiananmen Square occupants. They had a moral responsibility for the society, and that sense drove them into joining the protests. Accusations were laid against the students’ leaders since they are the ones who persuaded their counterparts into the demonstrations. This extends since some managed to evade persecution and their lives in exile have been successful. That is outrageous to consider because it is obvious that the later developments were not prior intentions of the students’ leaders. The threat was posed by equal risks, and the wisdom was vested on those who requested the students to withdraw from the square to avoid further bloodshed. The film is relevant to the social and historical structures of China in that period.

Several years after the occurrence, it is clear that the Chinese hold the events of the Tiananmen Square dearly in the history of the efforts for changing the social, political and for understanding the history behind the events. It is a significant lesson as to the damage high handedness of the leadership of a country can have on its own citizens. Obviously, there were efforts to hide information and oppress the people with intentions of revealing the problems and striving for a change. In the larger picture, it is a lesson to the entire world with interest towards the protection of human rights and maintenance of positive influences in the political and social history of humanity and nations.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 5). "The Gate of Heavenly Peace" Movie by Spence. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-gate-of-heavenly-peace-movie-by-spence/

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""The Gate of Heavenly Peace" Movie by Spence." IvyPanda, 5 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-gate-of-heavenly-peace-movie-by-spence/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Gate of Heavenly Peace" Movie by Spence." September 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-gate-of-heavenly-peace-movie-by-spence/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Gate of Heavenly Peace" Movie by Spence." September 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-gate-of-heavenly-peace-movie-by-spence/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Gate of Heavenly Peace" Movie by Spence'. 5 September.

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