A visit to the China National Film Museum
The China National Film Museum, which officially opened its doors in February, touts itself as “the biggest professional film museum in the world!” And it’s true – the museum is big. To avoid getting overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to arrive with an action plan. The following is tbjkids’ advice on how best to tackle this colossal monument to Chinese celluloid.
For act one of your museum adventure, we recommend an IMAX film. The IMAX theater on the first floor has different showings each day, but on a recent weekend they were offering T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous. Strap on the red 3-D glasses and watch your kids start reaching out to grab the images floating in front of them. You can call ahead to check what’s showing on the day of your planned visit. In addition to an IMAX theater, the first floor of the museum also houses a digital projection theater and three traditional theaters – but why settle for a conventional film?
Once they’ve been wowed by the cinematic sorcery, it’s time to introduce your kids to the mechanics behind movie magic. Don’t spend much time on the second and third floors – they’re dedicated to a history of the domestic film industry and don’t merit much more than a walk-through unless you’re fluent in Chinese (and a serious cinephile).
Most of the fun stuff is on the fourth floor. To get there, skip the elevator and opt instead for the giant, four-story-long ramp that starts in the main hallway on the first floor. This winding walkway’s tall walls change color from red, to green, to yellow, to blue. On a recent trip, one kid was racing the rainbow, running up all four floors before the red turned to green, and then back down before it became yellow. Even if your child lacks the lung power (or the sugar intake) to accomplish such a prodigious feat, he’ll still enjoy the light show on the way up.
Once you make it to the fourth floor, wander through Rooms 11-13 and check out the cool exhibits of film equipment, professional makeup and specialized cameras that can capture a bullet slowly spinning or the view down an ant hole. Room 11 has a show (held at 9.30am, 10.30am, 2pm and 3pm daily) that demonstrates how different weather effects can be produced just by changing the lighting. The best of the best, though, is in Rooms 14-18, which are devoted to special effects. In Room 15, you can see how famous stunts were pulled off, or watch yourself on film, riding a train past all kinds of scenery. In Room 16, your little screamers can speak into a microphone and see their sound waves produced on a screen.
A few of the museum’s activities are only available if you hire a museum guide (RMB 200, Chinese only). They’re not really worthwhile, though, unless your kids are crying for a videotape of themselves on a magic carpet ride over the Forbidden City.
To make the most of your visit, you’ll want at least two hours – don’t leave until your kids start planning for their Oscar debut.
China National Film Museum
(No English spoken at the front desk or on the phone. Some of the museum aides walking the floor can speak English. Some movies have English subtitles or sound, but check beforehand.) RMB 20, RMB 10 (kids); RMB 40 for IMAX tickets. Tue-Sun 9am-4.30pm (movie showings at 10am, 10.30am, 1.30pm and 2pm). 9 Nanying Lu, Chaoyang District (6438 1229, cnfm.org.cn) 中国电影博物馆, 朝阳区南影路9号
Driving Directions: Take the Airport Expressway (机场高速) to the Beigao (北皋) exit. Drive south until you hit the Nangao (南皋) intersection. Then follow the signs for the museum (中国电影博物馆).