Revolution of Our Times (2021)

This politically stirring and at times truly heartbreaking Golden Horse-winning documentary gives us that intense journalistic, on the ground experience of the 2019 Hong Kong protests from start to end.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review #2,371

Dir. Kiwi Chow
2021 | Hong Kong | Documentary | 152 mins | Cantonese
Not rated – likely to be NC16 for some disturbing images

Plot: An in-depth visual reportage on mass protests escalating in Hong Kong. The increasingly embittered battle brings heartbreak and despair, but also a powerful sense of fellowship among everyone from teens to seniors.
Awards: Won Best Documentary (Golden Horse); Official Selection (Cannes)
International Sales: Revolution of Our Times Team

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Protests; Politics; Social Unrest
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: Screener – Singapore Film Society Showcase
Spoilers: No

I don’t think anyone who has been stirred by the 2019 Hong Kong protests would ever forget it, though the haze of COVID-19 has somewhat made memories of it foggier. 

Winning the Golden Horse for Best Documentary, Revolution of Our Times is an invigorating reminder, but more critically, an important record for posterity no matter where your political views may lie. 

Although running at a rather lengthy 150-odd minutes, Revolution is presented in chapters that generally chart the chronology of significant episodes in the months-long, seemingly neverending sociopolitical upheaval, making it not just digestible but allowing us to see both the big picture and the microscopic moments of both humanity and brutality. 

It is the smaller, intricate details where the documentary triumphs, plunging us headfirst into the chaos as if you are a reporter on the ground.  From frontline protestors to backend logistics support, we see how a leaderless and faceless youth attack the authorities that seek to suppress them. 

“Because this movement is leaderless, everyone is a nobody. Nobody is everyone.”

One side would argue for freedom, the other for control.  It is a cautionary tale of what happens when any government doesn’t listen to its people. 

There are of course political forces pulling the strings that far exceed the grasp—and perhaps understanding—of the common man, and it’s easy to brand this as an anti-China piece, but at its heart, Revolution is really about the courage and humanity of the voiceless. 

It’s about putting the social in the political, that is to say, why must politics only be confined to politicians or the elites?  One of a handful of films centering on the protests to emerge during the pandemic, Revolution of Our Times, heartbreaking it may be, is essential viewing.

Grade: A-


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