“ Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 2010 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Actors: Li Chen, Chen Daoming, Xu Fan, Jingchu Zhang ... / DVD released 2010-12-27 at Metrodome / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Colour, PAL, Subtitled, Widescreen „
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The year is 1976 and the town is Tangshan in china. The quiet summer evening gets disrupted when a massive earthquake shakes and destroys the town, one family is about to be destroyed when a father runs back to the home to try and save his twins. The mother has survived and has to watch on in horror as the building collapses and kills her husband and leaves her children missing. As the dust settles the twins are fond but she now has to make the heartbreaking decision of which one to save. A concrete block is on both of the children and to lift it to save one child will mean crushing the other.
Finally the mother makes the decision to save her son and the rescuers do as she wishes. The son is bought out badly injured and so too is the dead body of her daughter. The daughter gets laid next to her dead father and the mother has to leave to get medical help for her son. Fortunately the daughter is not dead and she wakes to find the destruction and devastation all around her. She gets helped by the Red Army to safety and soon she is adopted by a military family.
The mother and son return to Tangshan to try and rebuild their lives but this is going to be hard as the mother is still grieving and she son lost his arm.
The daughter now has to try and get on with her life with her new family, she tells them she has no memory of her past life and who she really is but is she telling them the truth?
Will this family every find each other and be reunited or will they forever be living with the grief and after effects of this massive disaster?
It was by chance that I watched this film as hubby chose it thinking it was going to be a disaster movie, fortunately for me it was not and there was a massive story which came from the destruction at the start of the film. The storyline was very good and not knowing anything about the film before watching made it even more enjoyable for me. The story does start with massive destruction and disaster but then moves on to show us how people and one family have tried to overcome their grief and disability. I have not used names in the above short plot summery as this was a difficult part of the film for me to follow, the names came up on screen but the way they were pronounced was very different so I did in fact watch the whole moving taking no notice of them at all and spotted the characters just from their appearance alone.
The acting was of a very high standard and thoroughly enjoyable, for the two children in the film we had a few different actors paying them as the film spanned over 31 years and they all did a excellent job, the main ones though were the actors who played them when they were grown adults, Chen Li and Jingchu Zhang. They managed to bring so much to the story and a lot of emotion and they played very strong and powerful parts. The role of the mother was also a very well cast one as she too played a good role and at the start of the film reduced me to tears with the way she portrayed the hard choice she had to make. We did have some very good support actors in the film and they managed to bring a good mix and variety of characters and ultimately give the story some depth.
The effects which were used for the start of the film were of a very high standard. I did actually find some of them hard to watch as we got to see people being crushed and killed from the earthquake and it all looked so real. I was slightly disappointed that this happened at night as the dark and dull background did make some of the scenes hard to watch but overall they were all very well made. We did have some further effects in the film but they were all only small and again they fitted effortlessly into the film and storyline.
Some may be put off slightly from this film as it is all in Mandarin with subtitles. I too was slightly dubious of watching because of this but once the film has started and after about 10 minutes I really did forget that I was reading the story and I think the film was so much more powerful and realistic due to it being spoken in the native language and if in English I think it would have lost a lot of the raw emotion and power it did have. The music was of an oriental feel and worked very well throughout and it did also help getting the emotions and tension of the story across.
I did at times feel that the film was slightly disjointed and did not flow too well, I think this was because the film would just suddenly skip a few years and we would not get told this and we had to work out the time frames for ourselves, I think if a small caption would have come on screen and given us the years then it would have made it slightly easier to follow.
The DVD does not have any bonus features on and usually this would not have bothered me but at the end of the film a few things were shown and it had me wondering whether this was a true story or not and I would have liked to have had the bonus features to have be able to see what the story was based on. I did loo on the internet and in fact discover that this is a true story and the earthquake did happen and was very accurate to how the film showed it. I am glad I took the time to research this as for me it gave the film slightly more credit and emotion.
The running time of the film is 130 minutes and this may seem slightly long to some but did actually loose track of time once I got into the story. The rate is a 15 as there are the scenes of the natural disaster at the start of the film and I do agree with this, personally I think younger viewers would have a hard time trying to follow the story. We bought the DVD for £7.97 from Tesco and I think this is a good price.
I am more than happy and quite surprised to be giving this film such a high recommendation and the full 5 stars as I felt it was a little disjointed at times and it was all subtitled. The storyline and acting was excellent, strong and powerful and this was a moving film to watch. I think this film is definitely worth just over 2 hours of everyone's time.