China's ban on time travel in movies leads to unforeseen repercussions!

Asian Editor; Hong Kong, China (@Marshy00)
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China's ban on time travel in movies leads to unforeseen repercussions!
Last week, China's State Administration of Radio, Film & Televsion (SARFT) made a bizarre announcement on their official website, advising filmmakers against employing time travel storylines in their work going forward. When SARFT gives out "advice" like this it is more or less to be taken as a blanket ban, although there remains no actual published Film law in China at this time. SARFT labelled time travel as treating history "frivolously and disprespectfully" (something no Chinese film has ever done in the past, oh no sir, not never!), not to mention promoting "bad science".  

While China is not known for its science fiction films, SARFT's "advice" was most likely prompted by the growing popularity of drama series MYTH and THE PALACE, both of which centre around contemporary heroes who are transported back in time. No doubt the real reason for the ban is to prevent the series writers from making unflattering comparisons between the glorious, infallible utopia that is China today and the wretched wasteland that was China of yesterday, coupled with the fact that 2011 marks yet another milestone for the glorious Communist Party as it celebrates 90 years of idyllic, trouble-free existence.

While it is unlikely that the actual reasons will ever be formally acknowledged, this move did yield one unexpected but welcome development. It gave me the fantastic opportunity of going on the BBC World Service's The World Today Weekend breakfast radio show to discuss the matter in more depth. Should you so wish, you can listen to the segment below:

(Image pilfered in good faith from

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arturoApril 20, 2011 7:39 AM

This is tragic news, there are so many talented filmmakers in China, and their true voice will be lost amoungst all this nonsense..

emilkloedenApril 20, 2011 9:06 AM

I realise this is a light-hearted piece but i'm confused on one point. The Communist Party didn't come to power until 1949, so what happened in 1921?

James MarshApril 20, 2011 9:46 AM

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CPC. Yes, you're right, it is a little muddled in the article, will see to that.

Michael GuillenApril 20, 2011 11:27 AM

What an absolutely bizarre decree. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, James.

huffy08April 20, 2011 3:41 PM

WTF? This is like something the Onion would come up with.

Al YoungApril 20, 2011 7:50 PM

Maybe the SARFT issue the ban on time travel in films because they seen Wong Jing's absurd sci-fi flick Future X-Cops. All kidding aside, I think the SARFT needs to lighten up and learn to have fun. There seems to be a big push on nationalistic films in China as of late. Atleast they don't have complete control of the Hong Kong film industry. If they were to have their way, we would be deprive of 3-D Sex and Zen which is on fire at the local box office right now.