From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China (2003)
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An American violinist goes to China to teach young musicians. There are certainly aspects of this film that bothered me even though they wouldn't bother others. From my post-colonial background, I'm always very cautious about Occidental people going into the "Orient" with a posture of superiority, and Isaac Stern, despite his romanticization of the landscape (scored, of course, by "Oriental" music), fits the bill as one who assumes weakness on the part of his charges, seeking to correct and "teach" rather than being open to learn. His main complaint is his students' lack of passion as they play, but if I closed my eyes, I couldn't tell the difference between Stern's "passionate" playing and his mocking of his students' lack of passion. Overall, I think this is a dated film, reproducing the doctrines of American exceptionalism common to its age.
It's interesting to see the Chinese approach to classical western music. As with most of their disciplines, it's about formula and perfection and not necessarily passion. Isaac Stern tries to teach the Chinese people to play with passion.
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