Acting and Chinese History

Acting and Chinese History

Chinese History in Chinese TV

This blog covers some the things I learned about Chinese history through filming in China, and particularly about some of the foreigners who helped shape history there.

Joseph Stilwell

HistoryPosted by Ben Thompson Fri, April 12, 2013 19:07:17
General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell was a four star American general who was appointed as Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek, Stilwell became more and more disenchanted with Chiang, whom he referred to as "the peanut".

I played Stilwell a couple of times, this clip is from a TV play called "Zhou Enlai in Chongqing" (周恩来在重庆). This play falls under the category of "propaganda", but it was very well made propaganda. My neighbours told me it won a prize, though I'm not sure what prize it was exactly. It covered all kinds of things that films don't usually cover, such as how political committees work and what people do if their newspapers are closed down by the government, etc. The play was filmed by the August First Army Film Studio. I worked for them several times. It's quite strange working with a company where half the assistant directors are wearing army uniform, but they are an excellent company and universally acknowledged as expert film makes throughout the film industry in China. I often used to meet their personnel on hire to civilian film companies.

In this clip I am playing Stilwell in a dialogue with Chiang Kai-shek, Song Meiling is present and interpreting for Chiang. We filmed this scene in Chongqing actually in Song Meiling's house where she lived with Chiang Kai-shek. The house is now a museum.