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Back to 1942

(CRI Online)

14:18, December 11, 2012

Poster of "Back to 1942"

"Back To 1942" is a 2012 Chinese historical film directed by Feng Xiaogang. It's based on Liu Zhenyun's novel "Remembering 1942". Actors Zhang Guoli, Chen Dao Ming and Li Xuejian are among the cast.

Two disaster films are now competing to disturb the emotional flat line of the Chinese film market. Ang Lee's message in "Life of Pi" is cryptic and hidden in numerous metaphors. Feng Xiaogang in "Back to 1942" is more straightforward and aggressive. Before I saw Feng's product, I anticipated crude, unpolished pictures, a prediction proven positive.

In the year 1942, men were dying by the tens of thousands in World War II. However, in central China, an event of no less magnitude was happening. Draught and famine wiped out more than 3 million people in Henan province. They either starved or were killed in the scramble for food. Help wasn't available because the government was preoccupied in fighting the invading Japanese army. Many locals migrated to find a living in a neighboring province, including wealthy landlord Fan, played by Zhang Guoli. A series of tragic events deprived Fan of all his possessions, family members and acquaintances, causing him to journey to the epicenter of the disaster.

Director Feng didn't apply much technique and emotion to the cinematography. His lenses often play the role of an indifferent observer, presenting a realist cruelty of life under extreme circumstances. This trait was notable in his 2007 war film "Assembly". For the new piece, it is practically a domestic version of "Final Destination." You can safely assume that all characters will eventually die, the only question is how. But, the how can still shock you.

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