The humbling of Hollywood and the swelling of Chinese soft power, twist and combine across Schwartzel’s masterfully organized book ... This is a fascinating book. It will educate you. Schwartzel has done some extraordinary reporting, and a lot of legwork.
Erich Schwartzel dives deep into Hollywood’s complicated relationship with China ... A Matrix-esque red pill that may render you unable to ever watch a movie again without clocking the on-screen elements that seem shoehorned in specifically to appeal to Chinese authorities and audiences. The book serves as both a fascinating exploration of the Chinese entertainment apparatus and how seemingly innocuous American films can become international flashpoints ... If you’ve ever wanted a crash course in the last 100-plus years of Chinese history, Schwartzel provides a pretty comprehensive one in Red Carpet. It’s necessary context ... Schwartzel does his best to distill complicated ideas down to their simplest forms, with the occasional burst of literary flair ... He does a concise job of explaining the huge impact these films had in China and the types of movies Chinese cinema lovers want to see ... Red Carpet is both a movie nerd’s dream and nightmare in the sense that it contains fascinating information that may make readers more wary of the entertainment they consume. If you love movies and are willing to take that risk, you won’t be disappointed by following Schwartzel down this particular rabbit hole.
Schwartzel’s narrative emphasizes the trajectories of specific films and is leavened by interviews with directors and studio executives as well as a sophisticated understanding of internal Chinese political dynamics.
Schwartzel makes an eye-opening debut with this accomplished account of how soft power—namely, entertainment—helped China become one of the most influential players on the global stage ... Schwartzel covers a lot of ground ... While later chapters on China’s influence on African infrastructure projects feel like filler, it’s overall nonetheless an illuminating look at what China learned from Hollywood, and why Hollywood needs China to survive. It’s a fascinating take on the crossroads of film and global politics.