ETERNAL SPRING – movie review


Lofty Sky Pictures
Reviewed for &, linked from Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: Jason Loftus
Screenwriter: Jason Loftus
Cast: Daxiong, Jin Xuezhe, Lan Lihua, Wang Jianmin, Zhang Zhongyu, Wang Liansu, Wang Huilian
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 10/11/22
Opens: October 14, 2022 at New York’ Film Forum

In the United States, you can be for immigration or against, for gun control or against, for abortion or against, and still be elected to political office depending on your constituency. If you are Donald Trump you can grab women by their [private parts] and shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and no one will care. They may even vote for you. But there is one belief in America that would doom your chances of election: being an out-of-closet atheist. Strangely enough, in China, you have a far better chance of being elected to office if you are a non-believer, since atheism is the state religion. If you are affiliated with what looks like an innocent membership in the Falun Gong which is practiced in one hundred countries, you could be arrested, tortured with electric shocks, psychiatric brain washing, beaten regularly, and housed in solitary confinement. What is this group, founded in China—a mafia? Drug dealers? Rapists? None of the above. All they practice if you believe what you see in Jason Loftus’s partly live and partly 3D animation movie “Eternal Spring” is that practitioners do prescribed exercises and meditate, leading a spiritual life; what look to me like Tai Chi which I had to get up at 6 a.m. in Hong Kong to witness.

According to Daxiong, the 3D animation artist and principal spokesperson for “Eternal Spring,” when the Chinese Communist government came across a thousand people practicing the guide, they thought that this was too large a group. That could serve as a threat to the status quo. The government banned the practice which it had encouraged at first. But when Falun Gong members hijacked a TV station and broadcast their propaganda in 2002, the police took the violent action such as that mentioned above, determined to put an end to anything that threatens the dictates of the authoritarian one-party system. We see in Daxiong’s drawings a recreation showing an electrician climbing a pole to make the technical adjustments, connecting the video therein. TV broadcast the documentary.

Daxiong holds forth with his stunning animation, showing police raids in Changchun City which arrested scores and forced others to flee. In fact Daxiong now lives in New York and other dissidents are shown in Toronto and Seoul. Not so lucky was a man named Big Truck who thought he could escape via a hunger strike, which sent him to the hospital where he would prepare to climb the walls. He died, not strangely, at the hands of the police.

The movie was featured at the London and New York Human Rights Watch Film Festival, won the audience award at Toronto’s Hot Docs, and is Canada’s submission to the 95th Academy Awards. But consider “Eternal Spring” to be a one-sided propaganda show. Funny how director Jason Loftus forgets that the Falun Gong, which I used to see handing out leaflets in New York’s Greenwich Village, are extreme opponents of homosexuality, the founder in a speech in Switzerland in 1998 holding that 1998 speech in Switzerland that, “Gods’ first target of annihilation would be homosexuals.” (Lewis, James R. 3 May 2018. Falun Gong: Spiritual Warfare and Martyrdom. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-1108445658.) They also spread Q-anon conspiracy theories, are anti-vax, and Donald Trump is their preferred presidential candidate here in the States. See the Wikipedia article under “Falun Gong.”

In Mandarin and English with English subtitles.

86 minutes. © 2022 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B
Technical – A
Overall – B