One film I never did manage to find in Guangzhou, despite being banned for decades was Michelangelo Antonioni’s Chung Kuo – Cina. Zhou Enlai and others were hoping for an ode to the marvelousness of the Cultural Revolution and communist China, what they got was not what they wanted. As for the four hour documentary now, The 88s tell all about it.
“If Guangzhou’s problem with street crime makes southern China seem a dangerous place … denizens of the province of Guangdong were less worried about the odd mugging or bag snatching than they were about rampant banditry or pillaging rebel armies.” I thought it was Feng37 blogging about media reports of what a scary place Guangzhou is, especially with all those Fulan migrant workers. Actually it’s about the 开平碉楼 watchtowers in Kaiping that are on the verge of UNESCO World Heritage listing.
News Guangdong reports on the Kaiping Watchtowers, diaolou 碉樓, which have come under State protection for their architecture and historic significance. These weird buildings, which look like recent unfinished attempts at grandiose european mansions or failed efforts to imitate every major architectural style since the Moors romped through Spain litter Kaiping in their hundreds, and have been chosen to represent Guangdong Province at the 28th World Heritage Exposition Suzhou. Like everything in China these days, they even have their own website, 开平碉楼网 Kaiping Diaolou
The watchtowers were built in a variety of architectural styles. The early ones, as represented by Yinglonglou, followed the design of brick Qing Dynasty houses, except that the walls were thicker and the doors and windows narrower and smaller. With the participation of returned overseas Chinese, watchtowers began to adopt some European designs. While still very sturdy, the watchtowers reached a pinnacle in a marvelous combination of traditional Chinese watchtowers and classical European architecture.
For the purpose of protection, all the watchtowers had narrow iron gates and windows. On the top there might be a flat roof or a dome, with ports for defense and observation.
The top parts of the watchtowers differed greatly, ranging from the typical traditional Chinese gabled roof to European castles of the Middle Ages and ancient Roman architecture. There was generally a stone tablet with an inscription of the name of the tower or some stirring poetic words.