“Up the Yangtze” at Bell Museum of Natural History

Griffin Fillipitch

Anyone who subscribes to Netflix knows how easy it is to get hooked on the Instant streaming feature of the site. One morning you might decide to take a break, skip one of your bigger, more skip-able lectures and watch a few episodes of something. One week and seven seasons of "How I Met Your Mother" later, you realize you've missed two tests and haven't showered in days (and that Ted hasn't met "your mother" yet–hurry up, Ted). This is why Netflix Instant is the best and the worst. 

Everyone knows that TV shows are one of the easiest things to get sucked into on Netflix, because there is such an impressive number of really good shows that are available for streaming (some genres, like mainstream rom-coms, are poorly represented) (for shame, Netflix). Less seem to know that documentaries, really good ones, are just as abundant on Netflix Instant. I've been addicted to these lately. In the past few days, I've thoroughly enjoyed "Bill Cunningham New York," "Page One" and "Being Elmo," and those are just the most recent documentary releases.  Also available is 2007 documentary "Up the Yangtze"

It is a fascinating, dark and beautiful film about the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China. That's just at its core though. More broadly, the film looks at the change of Chinese culture from rural to capitalist. But it does so by showing, not telling, the lives of people throughout the country. This strategy makes it far more meditative than it is preachy. 

Documentaries rarely make it to a lot of theaters, so they are easy to miss the first time around. That is definitely true for "Up the Yangtze". Don't watch it on your computer though! For those of us who don't have Netflix or want to avoid the first-world problem of frustratingly slow buffering, the University's own Bell Museum of Natural History is screening "Up the Yangtze" tonight at 7:30 p.m. And this is definitely a movie that demands to be seen on the big screen.

So go down to the river! Learn something from this awesome movie! Be amongst other humans! Netflix will be there tomorrow.