If you zoom out from the no man’s land to the east of Xinjiang in Google Maps, you’ll discover 30 Chinese characters. Viewed from above, they form a series of maxims that have their origins in the Cultural Revolution: “Serve the people. Learn from struggles.” Constructed from stacked rocks, each of these gigantic characters is the size of a soccer field. A secret military airfield was built in this desolate region of the Gobi Desert in 1968, and the characters were used as navigational signs.
The revolutions that inundated the world in 1968 appear in news footage: the invention of the computer mouse by Douglas Engelbart, a meeting between Mao and the Revolutionary Committees, the student uprising in Paris, student activism in Japan, a speech by Martin Luther King, and the Russians putting an end to the Prague Spring.
Some of these revolutions were only just getting started, while others were crushed. Here, the events of 1968 coalesce into an elusive newsreel that’s etched into our collective memory. Filmmaker Ju Anqi zooms out and shows us the bigger picture.