(This post was going to be about another subject--see above, but the title got me to thinking about a movie I saw over 50 years ago.)
My Uncle James took me to see the 1966 film, the Sand Pebbles,
because it was about China and Steve McQueen was in it. (Uncle also took me to see another action movie, the Magnificent Seven
, in which Steve McQueen had a major role.)
Ostensibly The Sand Pebbles
was set in the gunboat diplomacy period of Chinese history, though the New York Times
said it was really about Vietnam.
5,000 miles away literally and a light-year away metaphorically from NY intellectual circles, my teenaged self hadn't a clue about the Vietnam subtext, and though the cinematography was gorgeous--no HD, much less color TV in my house--I didn't much like the movie. There were no good guys with the Americans and Chinese both behaving badly, and nearly everyone dies in the end.
I did infer a reference to the Korean War, when the Chinese "human wave"
tactic overwhelmed the UN positions. Stay away from China, the movie seemed to be saying, they don't care how many people die as long as you die, too.
In 1966 the purges of the Cultural Revolution had just begun
Western suspicions were confirmed about how the Chinese regarded human life. Millions perished and 20th-century norms and technology were rebuked by youthful ideologues who didn't know anything about how the world works and for that matter, how to survive without the advancements they decried.
Come to think of it, maybe the Sand Pebbles does
have a message to future viewers.