There is no gainsaying that Hard Like Water is, in English, an important book, if only because of its refreshingly sensual vision of the appeal of the Cultural Revolution.
Maxwell Olin Massa
For those with sufficient patience and imagination — and are eager to learn more about the Chinese literary scene than what’s found in journalistic headlines — Jia Zhangke’s documentary will be an uncommon treat.
Is Do Not Split a fine example of provocative filmmaking? Yes. Should you watch it? Certainly. Will it help you understand the forces feeding the discontent and shaping the discourse generated by the conflict? Not really.
Those who admire Yang Jisheng’s distinguished career should pick up this book. Those searching for a solid, accessible history of Mao’s Cultural Revolution should look elsewhere.