Yang Ban Xi: The 8 Model Works - Long Live Chairman Mao
Posted on: April 28, 2006
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Opera Ode to Mao.
History changes all the time. What is good today can be considered bad tomorrow. During the ten years of Cultural Revolution, traditional opera was banned by Mao's wife Jiang Qing, and replaced by a new kind of art in which the world was presented in a much simpler way: all the good guys were farmers and revolutionary soldiers, always singing and dancing in the broad spotlight. All the bad guys were landlords and anti-revolutionaries, who wore dark make-up and were poorly lit. Pure propaganda told in beautiful images and stories, in an innovative way incorporating the most modern techniques of cinematography, song, and dance, thus becoming a new art form in Chinese culture: Revolutionary model opera - the Yang Ban Xi.
More than 13 were created, but 8 of these carefully crafted model works were most popular and went into history as 'the 8 Model works.' They were filmed in bright Technicolor and Scope, and were the only kind of entertainment allowed in the theatres, on television and radio. Their influence was beyond measurement. The main performing characters became instant stars, revered in every household. Then, the storm of the Cultural Revolution subsided. Jiang Qing was convicted as member of the Gang of Four, accepted scapegoats for everything that went wrong during the revolution. Intertwined with Jiang Qing, the propaganda operas spun into a downfall, reviled as despicable art of a long period.