During the Hanns Eisler Discourse at Humboldt University in Berlin on 5 and 6 November Japanese scholar Chiharu Wada (Meiji-Gakuin University, Tokyo) will lecture about Women and the Far East in the documentary The 400 Million (USA, 1939). Joris Ivens' documentary The 400 Million deliberately presents a "new" image of China, where women and men study together, "as in America". It is Ivens' perspective for a modern Chinese society in which women are equal  to men, although this representation did not really matched reality in society in the 1930s. .

Eisler's dodecaphonic music, which also accompanies the students, technicians and workers as they build society, can be understood as a sign of approval for this democratic development. But despite some scenes in which women are shown as public speakers, for example, it becomes clear that equality does not really prevail. Women and men remain largely segregated: no women are seen in the Military Council or the National People's Council; the wife of General Chiang Kai-shek organises women to defend herself. We now know that this separation contributed to the perpetuation of gender inequality. In a broader sense, however, the film allows us to draw conclusions about the relationship between Chinese and Western culture. Historically, it seems that there are similarities between the male view of women and the Western view of China and Asia in general. These perspectives will be analytically related to the combination of Eisler's music with traditional Chinese music

For the programme: www.hanns-eisler.de:



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