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Movie Review: Up the Yangtze

Alternate Title: The Flood of Progress

Story: Canadian filmmaker Yung Chang lovingly chronicles the Three Gorges Dam Project (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Gorges_Dam) from a human point of view. His documentary does not preach, predict or play the blame game. He chooses rather to focus on two teenagers, one 19 and one 16, who are employed on one of the many luxury ships that hold 'goodbye cruises' on the Yangtze before the river floods to its height of 175 meters. They are saying goodbye to the China of old before modernity overflows the banks.

We witness the displacement of only one of the 2 million families that got in the way of China's progress. Eminent domain is alive and well in this giant growing world power. We get to peek into the intimate lives of some of the people who are being effected by this enormous engineering feat.

The two teenagers who work on the ship are groomed in the ways of foreign tourist and there are some very humorous scenes showing what they are not to speak about to us. They are given Western names so the tourists will be able to call them something they are familiar with. The film glides along the Yangtze as we watch people, places and things sink beneath the river.

For over three decades the Chinese government dismissed warnings from scientists and environmentalists that the Three Gorges Dam had the potential of becoming one of China's biggest environmental nightmares. Last fall, denial gave way to acceptance that the alarmists were right. Chinese officials staged an about-face, acknowledging for the first time that the massive hydroelectric dam, sandwiched between breathtaking cliffs on the Yangtze River in central China, may be triggering landslides, water born disease, altering entire ecosystems and causing other serious environmental problems—and, of course, endangering the millions who live in its shadow. So much for progress.

Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oV3tQ7G2Ve4

Acting: It is a documentary. Not applicable.

Predilection: I like documentaries.

Critters: A kitten, puppies, dogs, chickens and ducks. (None of the critters end up as the food category below).

Food: Chinese yummy looking dishes.

Sex Spectrum: No sex - the Chinese are very modest people.

Theater Audience: A packed crowd at the IFC Waverly.

Weather: The air is so polluted it was hard to tell what the weather was like.

Drift Factor: I was attentive throughout.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Soap Box: Don't get me started on China's ecologically disastrous political policies.

Big Screen or Rental: This would be a good rental.

Length: Under two hours.