Education About Asia: Online Archives

Blending with Nature: Classical Chinese Gardens in the Suzhou Style

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Written, directed, produced by Raymond W. Olson 2003. 53 Minutes. VHS. Color.

Distributed by Sacred Mountain Productions

17404 SE 17th Way, Vancouver, WA 98683

Phone: 866-597-6800

E-mail: brolson@pacifier.com

Web site: www.sacred-mountain.com

Students usually react skeptically—or with puzzlement—when I point out that traditional Chinese scholars sought to be Confucian in the daytime and Daoist in the evening. The idea strikes them as contradictory. After seeing Blending with Nature, I expect they will understand more easily what I am saying.

The film will not likely win major awards for production. Its narration tends toward dullness; the photography lacks subtlety; and the pace sometimes is slow. As it moves along, however, it becomes increasingly engaging, flowing fluidly (in Daoist fashion) from garden to garden and poem to poem. At the same time, it is quite carefully structured (Confucian style) and full of the kinds of insights that had me saying, “I think this will work in class: certainly in my introductory East Asian Cultures course, probably in Premodern East Asian history too.”

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