Skip navigation

The film is slightly better than I feared it would be, big budget Chinese production that it is. Those have continued to let the audiences down during the last years, especially when they are about current themes. The least that will happen in the average production is that the heroic efforts of whoever is suitable to be heroic are highlighted with such inappropriate pathos that it is hard to watch and destroys whatever may be the good sides of a film. The Tangshan earthquake has some heroes and heroic stories to be told – but director  Feng Xiaogang  manages to keep the glorification of the army and the survivors and the government at a (probably necessary) minimum. His interest seems to be in a story of cruelty: a mother who decides the fate of her children in the middle of the earthquake aftermath – she has to make a terrible (albeit slightly contrived) choice. As a consequence, she will suffer for more than 30 years under a guilty conscience, while the child on the losing end of the choice will nurture hate against her and will punish her with indifference. That is quite an interesting moral fable, and it allows a strong final scene, where both mother and child reflect again on their respective choices  – and it turns out that both have seriously punished and damaged themselves with the choices they made. The film indicates that the daughter was more wrong than the mother, which you may or may not accept, but the moral face-off is worth the 135 minutes wait. For a foreign audience unfamiliar with Chinese family life, obligations and commitments, I can imagine the characters are sometimes a bit hard to understand in their motives, but I found it mostly convincing, even surprising how the author dares showing the drama and the failures that comes with being stuck in this rigid form of family system.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: