As the name implies, documentaries aim to “document”. One of the most frequently documented is history. Past events are discussed, as educational and retrospective material, so that today’s generation can learn and then improve themselves. In the Same Breath, they are also historical events. The difference is, when the film is made and even released, the history is still not finished writing.
Especially if it’s not about the COVID-19 pandemic. Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation) investigated what caused the corona virus to spread so uncontrollably, by combining traditional documentary techniques and citizen journalism. The answer given may be known to all of us, but that doesn’t reduce the impact of In the Same Breath.
January 1, 2020, festivities adorn the New Year celebrations in Wuhan. The people rejoice, while the Chinese government promises a prosperous year for its people. In the afternoon, news emerged about eight people who were arrested for spreading hoaxes about mysterious pneumonia. Various television stations reported the news, with the exact same, word for word. That the Chinese government does not tolerate lies. Best Movie Site
Nobody paid attention. Including Wang, who lives in America, and wants to visit the mother with her husband and child. Wang’s escape brought back memories of that time. The news about the new virus in Wuhan was ignored by me, who was busy planning a bunch of targets. “What new project will you run? Which concert will you watch?”, was the thought at the time.
Through this documentary, Wang speculated, vented, occasionally said a little regret. Feels personal, good for him, me, and almost everyone in the world. But as a documentary, Wang refuses to remain silent. Upon his return to America, he asked several cameramen in Wuhan to record the reality during the lockdown. The result provokes anger as well as bitterness.
The initial recordings began at the hospital. The majority of patients were reluctant to be interviewed. Some immediately refused, some were willing as long as the head nurse was present, some wanted to talk as long as they were without a camera. From there the film progressed, from around a deadly epidemic, to a story of neglect of the people by the government, and how the government made the people (or many of them) not feel abandoned, due to the effects of prolonged brainwashing. One of Wang’s cameramen even agreed to a protocol that only allowed recording of positive things, so that “western imperialism does not take advantage of the situation to spread negative news about China”. Movie Review
Public service advertisements to television shows with propaganda nuances flooded Chinese television. All lead to one conclusion, that the government has managed to handle the pandemic extraordinary. Negative news is filtered out, activists who spread facts are arrested. A content creator goes missing after expressing his fear of the Communist Party in a video. Indonesian audiences will soon catch a chilling resemblance to the current situation.
In the Same Breath does sometimes appear like a terrible horror film. One of them is showing CCTV footage of a clinic, which is near the fish market where the first COVID-19 case was discovered. For four days since December 19, 2019, people flocked to ask for medicine. All had similar complaints: cough and/or flu. When the husband of the clinic owner showed the same symptoms, the entire hospital refused to treat him. Since long ago, the government has known of the existence of the corona, but has covered it up to avoid negative news.
Then, the story smoothly transitioned. It was the turn of the pandemic in the United States that was highlighted. The conditions are not much different. The government denied the dangers of COVID-19, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people there. The difference is, if some Chinese people are embarrassed because the government covers the death toll, Americans, as adherents of democracy, say otherwise. That the government is exaggerating the statistics, and it’s all a conspiracy.
Wang tried not to be so judgmental. Skeptics’ anger was attributed to the impact of the government’s lack of transparency. Not wrong, but in order to strengthen his point about the corruption of government, Wang seems to turn a blind eye to the indifference of the skeptics, many of whom are not based on critical thinking, but are pure stupidity.
The section on America, while well-connected, also offers some emotional moments when interviewing medical personnel, both quantitatively and qualitatively, is inferior in the face of investigations in China. It could be because Wang is more concerned and concerned there, which is only natural.
It is true that the majority of the problems in In the Same Breath we have often encountered. Painful footage containing hospital chaos, tragic news, to tired faces of naked men, has been peeled off in various media, including social media. But that doesn’t weaken the impact. Rather, it’s familiarity that’s why this documentary is important, as a time capsule. A reminder that bad governance can be more deadly than any virus. Top Movie