The Coming War on China
John Pilger, James Bradley, Bruce Cumings
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Famed journalist and agitator John Pilger uses his 60th documentary film to warn us of the impending war between the US and China.
‘The aim of this film,’ says Australian expat journalist and filmmaker John Pilger in the introduction his 60th documentary, ‘is to break the silence.’ In the opening minutes, Pilger highlights today’s media coverage which suggests the ‘yellow peril’ of yesteryear is having a resurgence or, perhaps, has never really dissipated. Soon after, a world map shows 400 US bases circling China referred to as ‘a perfect noose.’ For Pilger, the silence is the possibility that the US military is pre-empting a war with China. It sounds like alarmist talk, but over the course of his film, his tenacity for research aims to prove it’s anything but.
In his quest to prove his hypothesis, Pilger crosses paths with people from various walks of life. As well as talking to social scientists both in the US and China, Pilger politely crosses swords with politicians such as the Assistant Secretary of State. On the ground, he empathises with people like 87-year-old Fumiko Shimabukuro who regularly protests the expansion of bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
The documentary is both exhaustive and, at times, emotional. Depending on your proclivities, it will make you angry, and that’s its mission; it wants to stir the hornet’s nest and it refuses to use the obvious targets. Current President Trump may get called out for his sabre-rattling rhetoric, but so too is former president Obama for his part in the road to war. Going back as far as 1946 when the US began to test nuclear weapons on the Marshall Islands, the suggestion is made that the US has always seen the Asian region and its people as extremely strategic.
Is there a way to break the chain of events? Pilger isn’t offering a manifesto on change but he does refer to the common person as the next ‘superpower’. And that is probably as much optimism as you can distil from a film such as this.
The Coming War on China will receive a limited release in Australia, with many sites launching with a John Pilger Q&A.
Feb 16 – Dendy Newtown (Q&A on Feb 16 then screening daily)
March 1 – Orpheum Cinema (Q&A only)
March 6 – Riverside Parramatta (Q&A only)
Feb 9 – Cinema Nova (screening daily, with Q&A on Feb 10)
Feb 23 – Dendy Canberra (Q&A on Feb 23 then screening daily)
March 9 – Luna Leederville (no Q&A, screening daily)