Saturday, February 23, 2013

Movie Review: Back to 1942

Hey everyone. First off I would like to apologize for the lack of posts due to my laziness, school work, and that I don't have much of anything to post. That's why today I took time out from watching The Magic Blade and watched this movie and do a review on it.

Yesterday in class, my AP US history teacher was talking about WWII, or at least the lead up to it and everything before Pearl Harbor. Anyways, he was telling our class about The Rape of Nanjing, a topic which me and my sister knows really well. He had a slide with the poster for The Flowers of War; My sister and I got excited because we both knew about it and are planning to see it but it sparked something in me about another movie during that time period and that it got rave reviews. This is just a story on how I remembered to watched this movie, sorry if you find it useless. But I remembered I was reading a JayneStar article about a movie on a massive famine that occurred in China during the midst of WWII. 

This is the movie.

This movie was adapted from the book Remembering 1942 by Liu ZhenYun. 
In 1942 the Henan Province experienced a terrible drought causing one of the largest famines in history.

 It was the Winter of 1942. The film opens with Master Fan (Zhang Guoli) as a wealthy landlord in wartime Henan. When the rest of the village suffered from famine, Fan still had plenty of food to feed his family and the village. A group of bandits came and robbed the village, eventually burning it down to the ground.
Fan fled his hometown with his daughter, wife and daughter-in-law. They were also accompanied by a servant, Shuan Zhu (Zhang Mo). Along their way west, they met the family of fellow village-man, Xialu. They decided to flee together, but the food and money of Master Fan was robbed by Kuomingtang soldiers amid the chaos caused by Japanese bombing.
Brother Sim (Zhang Hanyu) insisted preaching his faith in the famishing province. After suffering a few Japanese bombings and witnessing many innocent people dying, he took refuge from the Priest (Tim Robbins) but started doubting the presence of God.
Meanwhile, TIME Correspondent Theodore H. White (Adrien Brody) trekked to Henan to investigate the famine. He discovered that despite people dying each day and some resorting to cannibalism, the government was not doing anything to help the refugees. Chiang Kai-shek (Chen Daoming) even wanted to give up defending Henan, leaving the refugees to the Japanese. White's report was eventually published in the magazine, causing the Chiang government to make a U-turn on their policy. But when the supplies were handed down to the province, local officials and troops had a fight over who would receive a larger share.

Review and Commentary
The only word to describe this movie is heartbreaking. It really gets you and the only way it doesn't is if you were asleep or don't have a heart. I understand where people say it was long and dragging, which it did get a lot but the plot and everything about the movie made up for it. For a two and a half hour movie of course it would get long. I didn't think that was an issue, it was more of a way for the movie to allow to understand and know more about what happened to the Henanese. 

This famine caused 30 million people without food and shelter and the fact that this happened during a war didn't even help. In the end 3 million people died from starvation, a staggering ten percent. These people were resorted to stealing, train-hopping, selling loved one and cannibalism, I don't think it can get worse than that. Oh wait, it can, the government didn't help them  because they were too worried about the Japanese, allowing the Japanese to take them over. 

Anyways, everything was done really well. The cast was spectacular, making it seem more believable. The graphics couldn't look any better. The editing, the timing, the way everything was arranged so that you could see it from everyone's point of view. I felt bad for everyone who worked on this movie because they had to endure the cold, wowza. 

This movie is definitely one of those movies where you will always remember, want to watch again, that's on you. I got way too sad watching this and I don't want to relive watching all of that again. But trust me, if you're a history lover then you will like this movie. The craziest part was that almost of of these characters were real... unbelievable.

4.4 out of 5 stars (In my opinion)

Part of the Cast
Adrien Brody as Theodore H. White

White is a Jewish American who is very bright and intelligent. He graduated from Harvard also. He was granted a traveling fellowship around the world and one of the places he ended up in was Chungking. Upon news of the famine he went to observe the situation himself and was in shock by what he witnessed. As a journalist, the took images and notes capturing what he saw and what the refugees were going through so the government can see and help them. He wrote an article for TIME magazine depicting everything. Eventually he returned back to America and lost his job in the Red Scare of Joseph McCarthy.. He wrote a novel Thunder out of China, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964 and then died in New York City in 1986.

I love Adrien Brody ever since I saw him The Pianist. He was amazing. I don't know what more to say and couldn't see anyone else playing this role. I plan on seeing more of his work because he truly is talented.

Zhang Guoli as Master Fan

Master Fan was one of the richest landlord in Henan, feeding not only his family but the entire village. But during the voyage he slowly lost everything, his wealth and family one by one. 

This guy was really good. I couldn't imagine going through all of that and he showed all the right emotions and I just don't know what more to say.

Tim Robbins as Father Tomas Megan

He's been in China for roughly thirty years to get people to convert to Christianity. He helped Theodore White when he first arrived in Henan.

Xu Fan as Hua Zhi

Hua Zhi is a lowly peasant, married to a farmer I believe. On the voyage to Shaanxi, she and her family encountered Master Fan and they became acquaintances, helping one another out. 

Zhang Hanyu as Brother Sim

Brother Sim was on the voyage to help the refugees and also convince them to convert to Christianity. Due to his actions, he felt grief, guilt and disappointment in himself and later returned to the church with Father Megan.

Chen Daoming as Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek

Chiang was a twentieth century military and political leader. He was an influential leader of the Kuomintang or the Nationalist Party. He later brought the Nationalist to Taiwan in 1949.

I feel bad I couldn't get more of the cast but this will probably be as close as it gets. I don't think there was really a main character in this, the closest would be Master Fan, but it's mainly a compilation of characters.

Stills from the movie

A good thing to read relating to this topic and movie is

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