“First Emperor of China” Movie Review

Released in 1989 and narrated by Christopher Plummer, this version of the First Emperor of China is about half the length of the nine-part series, The First Emperor: The Man Who Made China (link to part 1), about Qin Shi Huangdi on YouTube.

 

This documentary was first seen on an IMAX screen, and it covers a few of the known facts about the first emperor’s life.  There is the attempted coup by a prime minister; the assassin with a poison knife; the conquest of six Chinese nations to unify China (too brief on detail); adopting one written language, which resulting in book burning and burying hundreds of scholars alive who disagreed with him; completing the Great Wall of China, and the creation of the Terra Cotta army that would guard his tomb.

Then there is emperor’s quest to live forever by consuming a form of liquid mercury, which shortened his life by decades—an example of how power corrupts absolutely making a man believe he was as powerful as a god.

This link will take you to the New York Times review, which said it was a painless history lesson full of vibrant period details but lacking human drama.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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