“Dimanche à Pekin” (Beijing in 1955 and in the eyes of Chris Marker)

Teaching suggestions for a culture and language class:

  1. before watching, have students research about China in 1955–what social system, what historical context.
  2. come up with a list of things one may expect to see in a documentary film of Beijing by a french film maker (a “foreigner” seeing China for the first time). Hints:what people dress like, means of commuting, iconic scenarios, views on the market and streets, color schemes, forms of art.
  3. watch together, have students take notes of things that touched them, or struck them as odd or interesting.
  4. run a list of things that students find interesting and why.
  5. discuss the film maker’s stance, and how you can tell.
  6. have students work in groups to research for periods after 1955. Give a period for a group: the great leap, the cultural revolution, the open-door policy and economic reform, the turmoil of 1989, the turn of the century, the 21 century. Give students specific tasks:1) important events; 2) one important social change.
  7. Students present.
  8. Essay writing.

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