Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mao: The Movie!

Idi Amin Dada had his moment in the Hollywood sun with The Last King of Scotland, prompting me to ask: where are the rest of the dictator movies?

Well, Robert De Niro of all people has heard my plea, and will be making a movie about the late Chinese dictator Mao Zedong. De Niro has managed to secure the film rights to Roy Rowan's book Chasing the Dragon: A Veteran Journalist's Firsthand Account of the 1949 Chinese Revolution. Presumably, De Niro will be shortening the title to Chasing the Dragon, because, you know, it's impossible for Americans to write books or make movies about China without the words like jade, pearl or dragon in the title.

There's no word yet on how the film intends to frame Mao's bloody war with Chiang Kai-Shek, or the bloody chaos that ensued after the Communist victory. Because the book focuses on the Revolution, it seems to be a safe bet that we're going to be shown Magnanimous Mao, hero of the Agrarian Dispossessed, Enemy of Japanese Fascism, and so on and so forth. Hey, beggars can't be choosers, and I'll take a defanged Mao movie over none at all. But if anyone's listening, it's time to deliver the goods on a Mao movie we can sink our teeth into. Has anyone ever made a movie about the Great Leap Forward? How about a Scorcese style treatment of the Cultural Revolution? They could call it Redfellas!