FILMS

 

The story of the little book that undressed Mao Patrick Remacle et André Chandelle

This is the story of a little book that "undressed Mao" at a time when he was at the peak of his glory.

"The Chairman's New Clothes", published in Paris in 1971, is considered to be one of the first works to unmask the Maoist deception, particularly the phenomenon of the Cultural Revolution.

The book, a 100-page pamphlet written in a sarcastic tone, was translated into many languages and remains today a reference work. It was written by a world-renowned Belgian sinologist, Pierre Ryckmans, writing under the name Simon Leys.

Ryckmans spoke and wrote fluent Mandarin and was a first-rate writer. During a live TV programme "Apostrophes", he demolished the spurious arguments of those who saw Mao and his revolution as a great hope for humanity.

Simon Leys - the pseudonym Ryckmans adopted to avoid a diplomatic crisis - stayed out of the limelight and only rarely gave interviews. Yet Bernard Pivot considered him to be one of the greatest living French-language writers.

This documentary will revisit the genesis of a little book and its author, who has much to tell us about China today as it readies itself to dominate the world in the 21st century.