Film Review: Ascension

An aspiring influencer

China first opened up its economy for foreign investment and started to enact free market reforms at the end of the 1970s. Deng Xiaoping’s modernising agenda has resulted in the country becoming the fastest growing major economy in the world over a period of thirty years. It’s now second only to the United States and predicted to overtake the capitalist behemoth by the end of the century. This ‘progress’ has not come without a price.

In the same way that the ‘American dream’ captured the imaginations of people across the US during the 1950s, notions of the ‘Chinese dream’ have become prevalent throughout ‘The Red Dragon’. However, like its namesake, theory and practice are two very different beasts. In Jessica Kingdon’s new documentary, Ascension, she travels to 51 locations across the country to observe the stark reality of modern industrial China.

Ascension is a highly cinematic study of consumerism and the polarised standards of living in China. As we travel across the country, we observe the disparities between rich and poor. Kingdon’s documentary follows the supply chain from factory worker, through the aspirational middle classes and eventually on to the playboy lifestyles of the rich.  Accompanied by a soundtrack from Dan Deacon, Ascension captures an economic and social revolution through incredible imagery.

Ascension launches on Paramount+ on 15 November.

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