Should we care? Well wouldn't we all howl if Canadian movie producers attempted to shoot a script set at the troubled Mount Cashel Boys Home in the 1970s, but was totally silent about the sexual abuse of kids? Wouldn't the media give the Director a hard time if he attempted a patriotic wartime drama with one of our Native Residential Schools as an establishing shot, but ignored what went on inside? How then does Ottawa born Director Roger Spottiswoode believe he can get away with travesty. In his Children of Huang Shi he whitewashed events in far off China which equate with the worst of Mount Cashel abuses.
Roger Spottiswoode, Director of The Children of Huang Shi in Chicago on May 23 to promote his film. The shameful and callous Australia-China co-production whitewashes history for the sake of making a buck. The true story of a Chinese school of horrors, run by a white paedophile and funded by western charities, has been oblitered by a Bio-pic gone very, very wrong. (Patrick McDonald photo)
In interview Spottiswoode claims that the gestation period for this film was eight years. Really? Then how in the hell did he get the story so wrong?
"I try not to make up too much and in some cases, I don’t make up anything at all. It is a balancing act in that you are trying to tell a story of things that really happened and are trying to stay out of the fiction business but at the same time, you have to make it as compelling as possible". The Spottiswoode treatment involves hanging a completely bogus story, and a cast of composite characters, on the shoulders of one man who actually existed. There certainly was a George Aylwin Hogg in China between 1938-1945, and he did work briefly for U.P.I. That is just about as biographical as this film ever gets. He did not witness the Rape of Nanking.
The real George Aylwin Hogg in a photo sent to the publisher of his China memoir. Hogg's book gave broad hints of the paedophilia he witnessed at the school run in Shensi by a notorious New Zealand pervert.
The Children of Huang Shi asks us to accept George Hogg deposited at an "orphanage" in war blasted Shensi province, left entirely to his own devices, and unable to speak Chinese. He is confronted by a feral pack of Chinese youths, all lice bitten war orphans emotionally crippled by their loss or else made prone to violent rages by the Japanese atrocities they witnessed. With patience and love George Hogg "Mr. Pig" performs a miracle. He wins the boys trust (and a Guinness record for learning to speak Chinese) and in a thrilling anti-war gesture he leads the orphans on an epic journey through the mountains, to save them from being drafted into the Kuomintang Army.
The truth is more harrowing, certainly to the careers of myth mongers worldwide. George Hogg had fallen in with Rewi Alley, a New Zealand born operative in a busy espionage ring run in Shanghai by Soong Ching Ling (the bitter widow of Sun Yat Sen). Madame Soong, Alley and their circle had set up a network of training centres, or Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (Indusco), which became the pet charity of Madame Roosevelt and Henry and Clare Boothe Luce. The C.I.C. was a mecca for western do gooders and George Hogg found a home.
Rewi Alley, a New Zealand Runagate of the first water. A productive member of Madame Sun's espionage network, the Chinese Communists allowed Alley to satisfy his taste for sex with boys in exchange for his total loyalty, his expertise in fund raising and his flare for propaganda.
In his memoir I SEE A NEW CHINA, George Hogg gave a few broad hints of Rewi Alley's pedophilia, while assuring readers that he was a great proletarian hero. "The main distinctive feature of Rewi's cave in Shuangshipu is exactly the same as that of his former house in Shanghai - that at any time out of school hours it is filled with boys. ... Boys doing gymnastics off Rewi's shoulders or being held upside down. Boys being given enemas, or rubbing sulphur ointment into each others scabies. ... Boys toasting bare bottoms against the stove (the scar across Rewi's own nether portions testifies to his own indulgence in this form of amusement). Boys pulling the hair on Rewi's legs, or fingering the generous proportions of the foreigners nose."
To Alley's delight scores of boys consented to sex and, like most predators, he managed to conceal his crimes. Or did he? Much was made, then and now, about the fact that seven "headmasters" in twelve months had preceded George Hogg's posting to the C.I.C. school at Shuangshihpu (the alleged abandoned orphanage in the movie). It is quite possible that some of Hogg's predecessors could not stomach Alley's urge to corner students and poke his hand into their shorts. One Rewi Alley biographer argued that he was just a homosexual and NOT a paedophile. Oh... O.K. then.
The "orphanage" created for Spottiswoode's by Chinese set designers simply never existed. And there were no orphans. I'll let Hogg tell it:
"The co-ops... sent their problem cases - usually semi-educated middle class boys who had failed to adapt themselves to worker conditions when their families fell on hard times after 1937. These boys were filled either with consuming self-pity or with burning ambition to use the school as a stepping stone toward long-fingernailed office jobs. ... Nobody quite knew what the school was for, but the boys and the masters themselves both grew to have a sneaking idea that it was some kind of badly organized foreign charity..." As far as I can determine, not a single word of Hogg's memoir is represented in this movie which purports to recreate his China experience. How's that for the claim "Based on a true story". Hogwash!
I must now return this Chinese made DVD to the student who lent it for review. Mike Chuang, if you're sad I don't share your enthusiasm, forgive me! I did at least enjoy all that lovely Chinese scenery. Most of the reviews online are also very hard on the film, but for entirely different reasons. As Lavar Burton concludes on Reading Rainbow... "Don't just take my word on it."
Postscript - I visited the Children of Huang Shi Wiki page and inserted a link to this Blog article. It survived just two days before a brainless Wiki-crow deleted it. That is the fundamental problem with wikis - the dicks of the world, the academics as well as dropouts, post their jellied thoughts and then become full time wiki guardians, pouncing on any dissenting viewpoint.
UPDATE July 6 - I just read the comments left by a Rewi Alley supporter who believes I have been unfair to his Socialist hero. Alley was first and foremost a COMINTERN agent working in Madame Soong's network. His later involvement in Baillie schools allowed him to become a major fundraiser for the Reds, and to pass easily through military lines. The fact that he had a very dark hidden life as a rampant homosexual and child molester just added layers of deception to his makeup.
One of the few investigative biographies of the quirky Kiwi is FRIEND OF CHINA - THE MYTH OF REWI ALLEY . Here is a review written by Canadian author Douglas Brown.
My criticism of Roger Spottiswoode role as film director underscored his boast of having done exhaustive research on Hogg. That is a bogus claim. The fact is that Rewi Alley, working as a professional propagandist, constantly claimed the accomplishments of other Westerners in China as his own. The fact that Rewi Alley supporters, most especially his fan club in New Zealand, refuse to reference George Hogg's memoir I SEE A NEW CHINA in their promotions, shows that the cracks are at last beginning to widen. My Blog was a negative review of the film, which is why a dishonest Wiki crow kicked my link off the film's Wiki page. The fact is that a small clique of "Old China Hands" spent their latter years polishing their own Red apples, and relentlessly erasing better men and women from the historical record. That is a demonstrable fact, but beyond the scope of the Blog article.
The accusation made by "Mike" is that I was bashing Communism in my film review. If that was my motive I would have trashed a few of the "dramatic" moments of the film which were ludicrous. (Item - Chinese Koumintang army officers stuff their men into boxcars and lock all the doors. As the Japs begin strafing and bombing the station the cowardly KMT officers flee. A Red guerrilla officer chooses to ignore the strafing and unlocks the boxcars under fire, thus showing Red compassion for a bitter enemy. Eeeeyuck!)
LITTLE DEVILS - Item - in the movie Hogg's given motive for taking the "orphans" on the dangerous journey over the mountain was to deny their service to Chiang's army. In fact the largest intake of Siao Kuei or "Little Devils" (dubbed "Wild Boys" by the Shanghai press ) was by the Communists and not the Nationalists. The Eighth Route Army alone had more than 20,000 of them. Siao Kuei ranged in age from 11 to 16 and were noncombatants. By 16 they were deemed politically reliable and inducted as Red Fighters.)
Since Communism was vanquished from China almost two decades ago (it is now a fascist dictatorship of the classical model) it is a waste of my sweat to stir old "anti-Communist" rhetoric. I'm an honest Blogger and not a propagandist or film promoter.
I did find it amusing that Mr. Spottiswoode came back thinking the Chinese were in his corner. Even before a print of his new movie hit Canadian shores, Chinese were distributing the DVD here in Vancouver for $2 bucks. The DVD was high. It's the Canadian director's contribution which is poor.