Historical TV drama conveys the inspiring spirit of the CPC
‘Great Waves’
Published: May 25, 2021 07:03 PM
Promotional material of <em>The Great Waves</em> Photo: Courtesy of the production team of <em>The Great Waves</em>

Promotional material of The Great Waves Photo: Courtesy of the production team of The Great Waves

The task of playing China's well-known historical figures has always been a big but honorable challenge for actors. Actor Bao Jianfeng, who plays the role of the great leader Mao Zedong in the Chinese historical TV drama The Great Waves, also holds this belief. 

"I have played many roles in my acting career but they cannot compare to this," Bao told the Global Times. Although Bao once played Mao before in the 2011 historical film The Road of Exploring, he still thought very "carefully" when deciding to accept the role.

Debuting on Zhejiang TV on May 11, The Great Waves follows the development of the CPC from the May 4 Movement in 1919 to the 7th National Congress of the CPC in 1945.

Challenging role

"It was not easy for me… I needed to do a lot of work to know this role well so that the audience could have a sense of substitution while watching the drama," Bao said. 

Bao said the drama has many characters, so it took a lot of work for him to deal with the relationships between Mao and other characters.  

"I have read quite a lot historical resources and kept asking questions about the logic of the role. This was a very arduous work. I often talk to the director and ask him questions including what happened before, how much this matter affected the character, why he made certain decisions and what other characters were doing at the time…"

Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times that in the past, there were strict standards for actors playing important historical figures, such as ensuring the actors have a similar outlook on life as the role he plays as well as having a clear understanding of the background of the figure he will play. However, nowadays production teams and audiences pay more attention to whether an actor can grasp the unique temperament of a great man.  

"I feel that Mao Zedong always had a studious, truth-seeking and adventurous spirit," Bao said. 

In his understanding, Mao was constantly searching for the truth while looking for a way to develop China in line with its actual situation at that time. For instance, in order to understand the actual conditions of people's lives, Mao went to the Anyuan coal mine to work with the workers. 

"After these investigations, he was able to figure out exactly what they should do in the future. This point of being pragmatic and seeking truth later became Mao's characteristic way of doing things," said Bao. 

"I am not creating this character, rather this character is driving me to learn. It is me who is following the role, following the Party's 100-year history of development, and once again experiencing the hardships and ups and downs of our Party along the way, as well as the indomitable spirit of the CPC," he said. 

A bit of perspective 

Jiana Shahati, director of the drama, told the Global Times that the name The Great Waves is the perfect way to describe the Party's 100 years of history. 

"Looking back at that part of the history today, if we don't know how many people fell behind, strayed, or were even betrayed during this process, we might not understand how much spiritual strength and effort was needed for those who stood true. Their faith must have been so firm that they could resist all temptations and intimidation," said Jiana.

"Our aim will have been achieved if the audience becomes more willing to learn about our Party's historical figures and this period of history because of this drama," Bao said.