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AGE: College, Adult, A.P. Time: Approx. 52 Min. Ea. DVDs: 2
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The Summer Palace, located approximately six miles from Beijing, covers over 700 acres. Within this vast area, a wide variety of palaces, gardens, pagodas, temples and other remarkable buildings can be found, representing a miniature model of the Middle Empire, a genuine living museum of Chinese art. But it is also the archetype of the philosophy and practice of Chinese land art, which played a key role in the development of this culture throughout the Far East. Assured of unrestricted access, the images captured in these documentaries enable the viewer to experience the daily life of the imperial court of China, a private and secret world as it has existed in so many dynasties, and thereby better understand the spirit of this civilization, the essence of this culture and what the Chinese traditional lifestyle represents.

Part I: Emperor Qianlong And The Splendors of the Middle Kingdom
Qianlong, one of the most educated emperors of the Qing Dynasty, built the gardens and palaces with the dual purpose of creating a system of water supply for the capital of the Empire, and to create a space for contemplation, meditation and reflection as opposed to the Forbidden City, site of the exercise of power. Connected by a canal a few miles long, the two imperial centers represented both sides of the Empire: power and strength, beauty and culture. It is also in the Summer Palace that was born the policy of opening to the World. This emperor favored the development of trade with the Western World. This would also lead, unfortunately, to the confrontation with colonial armies in search of new lands, leading to the sack and pillage of the palace by a Franco-British army in 1860.

Part II: Empress Cixi And The Decline Of The Qing Dynasty
The legendary figure of Empress Cixi bore witness to the decline of the Qing dynasty and with it, China as an Empire. For her, the Summer Palace symbolized the splendor of the Empire, much more than the Forbidden City. She had to rebuild it twice after the looting of foreign alliances. But her political vision and influence remained insufficient to carry the Empire into modern times. By the early 20th century, the Summer Palace became the preferred place for China’s diplomatic activities. But it is also here where the opposition was born that eventually destroyed the reforms considered during the famous "Hundred Days' Reform". With the revolutions that shook the Empire throughout the last hundred years, the palace no longer has a political role to play. But today, it is finally recognized as an essential part of China’s history, equal to that of the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. 

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Closed Captioned
Duplication, Digital and ITV rights available