The best Chinese Mainland films: in numbers

A look at the facts and figures behind our best Mainland films

The facts and figures behind out list of the 100 best Chinese Mainland films of all time.

Flick through our gallery above to discover the just how many minutes does longest film on our list run for, which director stacked up the most entries, when the films were made and more.
556
1/6

556

The number of minutes (9.18 hours) it takes to watch the entirety of epic documentary West of the Tracks.


Image: Wang Bing Film Workshop

12
2/6

12

The number of years it took director Zhao Liang to make his documentary Petition.

8
3/6

8

The number of films in the list by Zhang Yimou – more than anyone else. Behind him are Jia Zhangke with seven, then Jiang Wen and Feng Xiaogang with four.

674,000,000
4/6

674,000,000

Amount in RMB taken at the Mainland box office by Let the Bullets Fly, the highest domestically grossing film on our list (not adjusted for inflation).


Image: Beijing Bu Yi He Le Hu Film Company

When the films were made
5/6

When the films were made

When the films were made
1930s: 6 percent
1950s: 3 percent
1960s: 4 percent
1970s: 1 percent
1980s: 11 percent
1990s: 23 percent
2000s: 36 percent
2010s: 10 percent

Zhang Ziyi in House of Flying Daggers (2004). Image: Beijing New Picture Film Co

5
6/6

5

The five broad generations of
Chinese cinema

Leftist
Films such as Wu Yonggang’s The Goddess (1934) focus on common people and class struggle.

Second Golden Age
After the Japanese occupation brings Chinese cinema to a halt, filmmaking begins again in earnest in Shanghai in 1947.

Early Communist Era
The PRC’s founding sees cinema used mainly as a propaganda tool.

Cultural Revolution
Film production in China virtually comes to a halt from 1967-72.

The Fifth Generation
The term is used to describe the generation of filmmakers who were first to graduate from the Beijing Film Academy in 1982 following the Cultural Revolution. With more freedom than those who preceded them, directors include Zhang Yimou and Jia Zhangke (pictured).

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