City of Dreams

City of Dreams

2006, Society  -   25 Comments
Ratings: 8.09/10 from 70 users.

It's party time in the birthplace of Chinese communism. Welcome to 21st century Shanghai. It's glorious to be rich is the party's new directive. A new middle-class is creating a surge of wealth, a surge that is leaving millions behind. In an abandoned theme park on the edge of town, film director Ma Liang is selling dreams to the new China. And in the heart of the city, designer Jenny Ji prepares to conquer the fashion world.

On the other side of town, architect Jin Ze Guang is erecting glittering towers on the rubble of the past. But the Shanghai dream comes at a price. Wei Qin just lost her home, her job, and maybe even her son's future. Nearly two million residents have been forced from their neighborhoods. Chang Mei Li's husband tried to fight the system; now he's in jail. She's harassed by police and destitute.

Hu Yang captures the city of vaunting ambitions and wrenching despair, a world he fears could self destruct. These are some of the lives caught up in one of the most stunning human transformations in the world today, and nowhere is that transformation more apparent than in Shanghai. In the streets and neighborhoods of the old city, the new dream for China is being turned into reality. A generation of Chinese now lives in a style that would not look out of place in New York, Berlin, or Toronto.

A quarter century ago, the Chinese government concluded that their survival depended on creating something they once tried to crush: a prosperous middle-class. In 1921, the communist party was born here. Today, that once hallowed birth place lies hidden behind the Starbucks, and an upscale shopping plaza. State controlled television is pumping out consumer dreams for the more than 100 million members of China's new middle-class.

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1 year ago


2 years ago

It says this is not available in my country (USA) I wonder if they have intentionally hidden it

3 years ago

Excellent. Every person was portrayed as that: a real person. It was touching and unafraid to look at multiple sides of Shanghai's success.

7 years ago

Well, I've lived in China for three years now and have to agree with Mox that Shanghai was god-awful. Couldn't wait to leave.
China has it's own brand of corruption, no surprises there. What about the financial cartel on Wall Street, a speculative bubble economy, and lobbying government cooperation for favorable legislation in Washington? Harassment by cops? Sure, and how about Homeland security? It seems China's middle class is emerging while America's is disappearing. A price to pay? You bet.
I'm left wondering what was the purpose of this documentary. It told us nothing we don't already know. Is the West really oblivious to its own decadence and decline and portraying Chinese people with some bucks as bad for having a bbq and owning a large country home? Wow.
Finally, where I live there is still plenty of cheap, open land and tons of as yet unleased/mortgaged housing. It's far more comfortable than the provincial capital. My impression is that China's future is bright.

8 years ago

I was in Shanghai not long ago hoping to find the Chinese culture that I have learned about in the history books. What i found was an entire city built on the models of New York and Los Angeles. They even have a replica of the Wall Street bull on the city waterfront. It is a totally Western setting populated by Chinese faces. In their mad quest get rich quick and to catch up with the developed world they have sold their souls. The so-called Chinese civilization is dead, and there is no such thing as the Chinese culture anymore.

9 years ago

I find China fascinating. It is experiencing one of the most astonishing societal transformations in human history. I just wonder though, and this isn't coming from a "omggg let them vote" American perspective thing, but I wonder what ordinary Chinese people think of the authoritarian rule.

Do they see their country going through this social and economic revolution WITH the CPC in power still or eventually want a multi-party system? Is the guided capitalism the way they want to go or do they want to embrace free market principles?

9 years ago

Very much like America the huge gap between the rich and poor.

9 years ago

"In China, the lawyer who tells the truth will be convicted." In America, the soldier who tells the truth will be convicted. Don't call him Chelsea, the name pinned on him to demean him, call him Bradley Manning.

9 years ago

Notice the symbolic Pyramid in the background, 5 minutes or so in?

9 years ago

And just who do you suppose is behind this "city of dreams"? The Rothschilds. Look it up... Rothschilds and Shanghai.

9 years ago

Its much easier to control the masses if they have, something to loose. Each donkey has to be issued his own stick and carrot. People like new things and toys its human nature. Its values, some people value material things others don't. Personally I wouldn't spend one extra hour of my time here on this Earth in pursuit of a rolex watch my shadow is my sun dial. But that's me. Ironically a majority of my Good friends over the years have been "wealthy" or well to do. I have always admired the "conservatives" mind set with that lazier like focus, there ability to materialize. I live in a tree house, actually its a loft over a very tall barn in the mountains the mountain drops at the edge of my deck placing me in the canopy. my very good friend down the road sleep on the Earth. He says, "I know how cold it is in the winter by how many sleeping bags i need". He has a little pop up tent in case he needs it. I've known him five years now and he has always slept there. He maintains a storage unit, small, within walking distance. He has a graduates degree in chemistry and does piece work. He works on my computer, .10,cents on the dollar. I doubt he even knows who's the President of the US is. The point is don't judge people accept people be respectfully and tend to your own business.

9 years ago

consumerism in China is pretty disgusting

9 years ago

Very interesting and worthwhile to watch.