Up the Yangtze


Universal acclaim - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 17
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 17
  3. Negative: 0 out of 17

Where To Watch

Stream On

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    A gloriously cinematic documentay of epic, poetic sadness.
  2. An astonishing documentary of culture clash and the erasure of history amid China’s economic miracle.
  3. 100
    Chang's images of the Yangtze and the new megacities replacing the villages on its banks are spectacular, and his cast of characters rival any fiction film I've seen recently.
  4. Filmmaker Yung Chang finds a sad and beautiful way to glimpse the big picture of dislocation through an exquisitely poised small study.
  5. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    In his masterful and haunting documentary Up the Yangtze, Yung Chang shows the old China drowning helplessly under the weight of the new.
  6. Before that marvel of human engineering - China's Three Gorges Dam - completes its legacy of human upheaval, there are vanishing sights to be seen.
  7. 88
    May be the best film to date about the humanitarian and environmental impact of China's enormous Three Gorges Dam project.
  8. 80
    By journey's end, Yung has found, in the Yangtze, a brilliant natural metaphor for upward mobility in modern China: Whether they hail from the lowlands or the urban centers, everyone here is scrambling to reach higher ground.
  9. One of the real pluses of Up the Yangtze, aside from its empathy with its subjects, is its striking visual quality. Beijing-based cinematographer Wang Shi Qing has an impeccable eye, often coming up with haunting images that show both the beauty and uncertainty of this pivotal time.
  10. Trained in Sanford Meisner's acting techniques, the director wrests surprisingly emotional disclosures from his subjects.
  11. 75
    By focusing on his two young protagonists, Chang is able to explore the cultural differences between China and the rest of the world, resulting in sequences that are alternately humorous and eye-opening
  12. 75
    Goes from sleepily hypnotic to riveting over the course of 90 minutes.
  13. 75
    If, like me, you're both desperate to see new public-works systems in our own country and sensitive to the possible human and ecological damage, Up the Yangtze provides a devastating view of top-down, broad-stroke social programs.
  14. The disparity between Cindy and Jerry is itself obscene, but less so than that illuminated by the customers of Farewell Cruises, whom Yung shows to be almost parasitic in the way they feed off the misery (albeit without knowing it) of those who serve them.
  15. When the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River began construction in the early Nineties, an estimated 2 million people's lives were impacted. That's a staggering number to contemplate, but Up the Yangtze effectively personalizes that near-meaningless number by putting a face on at least a few of those 2 million.
  16. 63
    China's public image suffers another blow with Up the Yangtze, a documentary by Chinese-Canadian Yung Chang.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. David
    May 9, 2009
    The father is one of the most interesting, but tragic characters I have ever seen caught on film. His recognition of change, and his The father is one of the most interesting, but tragic characters I have ever seen caught on film. His recognition of change, and his responsibilities outweigh any anger he has about relocating. Simply a stunning documentary, one that should be seen by anybody who has bought a product from China, aka everybody! Full Review »
  2. AnnieS.
    Oct 16, 2008
    Devastatingly haunting, heart-breaking, and beautiful. One of the most stunning and important films of our time.
  3. Gabriel
    Jul 6, 2008
    Very powerful film. I'm not sure what Dyna is talking about, of course the subject outweighs the film, the subject matter is heavier than lead.