Review: Bold 2002 takeover of Chinese state TV plays out in hybrid documentary ‘Eternal Spring’
From the moment the camera pulls out of the eyes of Chinese actor Zhang Xianzong, it’s clear that Zhang has not been taken lightly. No, it’s not just the three-day shoot, for which he was given three meals a day and given unlimited space to walk around his own home—a privilege he described as “the happiest day of my life.” It was also about how the young man had to do without the usual amenities of his time in the “socialist” U.S. and instead live amid Beijing’s smog-filled canyons, along with his friends. “It’s not easy for me to survive from morning to night,” he said.
A year later, Zhang is still living the lifestyle he describes: shooting a film that is part love story, part survival tale, and part cultural study. If one were to ask Zhang if he is content with the life he was forced to live as a teenager in Shanghai during the late 1970s, he would say that he is deeply content.
“It’s my first time to shoot a film,” said Zhang, who was not available to meet with the media, in a phone call from New York. “It was very difficult to get the film done and I felt my hands were getting dirty for a long time. I have no idea why my hands were dirty.” Zhang, who has been working on the project since 2002, says it has become a dream come true. “I am very happy it became a real film,” said Zhang.
‘Eternal Spring’ is based on Zhang’s own life and contains much information to go along with it. The film follows the young Zhang during his first real years in the land of