This documentary named “The Great Wall of China” was published by National Geographic HD Channel on YouTube in 2015. Although its title is the Great Wall, the narrator does not spend a lot of time introducing what it is and how it was built as many people are already familiar with this information. Instead, this documentary toured us along the toughest and most extraordinary section of the Great Wall by leading us to the cities around the oldest section of the Great Wall.
Although the Great Wall is now the most iconic symbol in China and it has become the tourists’ favorite sight, it is the fake one that was built in the 1960s. Now we can’t see the original Great Wall as walls because they were destroyed or wore down in the past two thousand years. The oldest part of the Great Wall is located in the very center of China, starting from Lanzhou to Jiayuguan. As history recorded, Xuanzang, the world famous Buddhist monk, walked through this section during his tour to the West. The storyteller in this documentary had followed the footsteps of Xuanzang and took a deep look into the folk cultures of the minority groups in China.
This 50-minute documentary spent less than 5 minutes talking about how pageantry the Great Wall is; but from the variety cultures and terrains they have walked through, the audience can get an idea about the length of only a section of the Great Wall. The story teller had tasted the local food of multiple Minority Groups while he watched their horse racing and folk dances. The camera groups had also joined the parties of the local ceremonies. Walking along the Great Wall, they have experienced many different terrains in a few days including plains, farmlands, rocky upland, and desert. Only by watching this documentary, I was easily fascinated by the gorgeous landscapes they have filmed, and I am very proud of my own culture.
Although this documentary does not discuss social construction, from the folk cultures we can tell some similarities among them. The leaders of the Minority Groups are always men, and people who work at the markets and restaurants are usually women. This not only reflexes the common social structures of the inner lands of China but also shows that males are dominant in those cultures. While the modernized cities are already adapted to the equalities between the two genders, the backward cities are keeping their ideology for centuries.
I will argue that this documentary is extremely successful because it does not fall in some normal documentary clichés. They are leading us to the toughest and most extraordinary section of the Great Wall, which few visitors ever reached. By showing the audience how great the Great Wall is, they rather use their experience along traveling around the Great Wall and showed us how the local people live. Although these two seem unrelated to each other, the variety of local cultures indeed reflex the length of the Great Wall, and it reveals a deeper sight of Chinese cultures to their audience.
National Geographic HD. “The Great Wall of China.” Online video clip. YouTube. Dec 16, 2015. Web. June 30, 2016.