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Forever Young: controversy in China

"Forever Young" is the top box office hit in China as of last week ($68.3 in 10 days; $46.6 million this past weekend)--but it has generated controversy. Its story centers on Chinese college students over four generations.


A primary theme of the movie is that colleges play a pivotal role in realities--both business and social. The film spans the time before Mao Tse-tung's primacy through the Cultural Revolution and into modern times of expansive and almost capitalistic business enterprises.  It celebrates the 100th anniversary of Tsinghua University


The controversy surrounding the film centers on the theme of academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence and the light of China's restriction of free speech.


"It's ironic that the film encourages us to inherit the spirit of pursuing truth from colleges, while we are facing an unprecedented scale of censorship," one viewer commented on film-rating website [note: link is in Chinese] 


Source: "Controversial historical drama 'Forever Young' tops China's box office," by Gaochao Zhang, Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2018. 

Follow up:

  • What elements of the film would cause controversy in China? Do the same parameters resonate in the United States? Explain marketing perception differences between the two demographics.  
  • What do you think of the movie, if you are able to download it with English subtitles? Does it address the lack of freedom as a business as well as an ethical and philosophical concern? 
  • How does the "box office" of this movie compare to American film revenues for opening weekends?