Documentary: Under the Dome

Eleven years ago, the documentary named An Inconvenient Truth raised public awareness of global warming and had massive international effects on the subject. Two years ago, Under the Dome was filmed and released online, targeting air pollution problems in China.

Sharing the similarity that both documentaries engage public figures, they have brought huge influences in the society. Although Under the Dome was censored by the Chinese government four days after its release, it was widely viewed (over 150 million views in three days) and highly praised by citizens as well as media across the globe. The producer of documentary, Chai Jing, was also recognized by Times Magazine as one of its 100 most influential figures in 2015.

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Screenshot from Under the Dome, when Chai was asking a kid living in Shanxi whether she had seen stars, blue skies or white clouds. The kid’s answer was no.

The documentary successfully raised public awareness on air pollution at the same time it was criticised. The film mainly blamed the serious problem on government and certain heavy industries –the economic developing mode which neglects environmental issues. Statistics used in the documentary were criticised to be manipulated by Chai. Personal experiences also add sensationalism to this documentary, as well as its success in terms of attracting public attention. When she was pregnant, her daughter was found to develop a tumor in the womb. Sharing personal feelings and having a concern for the next generation can always strike a sympathetic chord in audiences.

When Chai said that she never wore a mask before giving birth, I feel the same. I used to live in Beijing and see smoggy whether from the windows of a 17th floor apartment I rent. I would complain and wish I need not to go out and work. But when I left the house, I usually left myself “unarmed”. Even to this day, wearing a mask made particularly for PM2.5 is seen as strange and overreacting.

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Picture from Bloomberg. A mask-wearing man walks down a street in smog-choked Beijing in 2013.

Over 90 percent of city residents know that the smog is bad for them, according to a recent poll conducted by the Beijing Institute of Social Psychology. But only around 42 percent of them have ever bought a mask.

From a 2015 reportage by the Japan Times

Under the Dome was focus of attention in its short existence and its influence on public awareness of air pollution issues lingers on. Nevertheless, there is still a long way from raising awareness to getting people to protect themselves.

When we are busy with living and working day to day, gradually start to accept our environment and forget what damages smog may cause to our health, it is helpful to review the documentary, just to remind ourselves that we need to battle against air pollution.

Full documentary can be found on Youtube.

 

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