An epic human drama set in motion by events beyond our control, Aftershock sweeps across three crucial decades in recent Chinese history. Acclaimed director Feng Xiaogang’s highly anticipated new film opens and closes with Tangshan and Chengdu, two of the most severe earthquakes ever witnessed. As dramatized in the novel of the same name by Chinese Canadian author Zhang Ling, this story explores the wounds and resilience of a family decimated by loss.
The hot summer night of July 28, 1976 falls on the unsuspecting town of Tangshan, where two seven-year-old twins – born before the introduction of China’s one-child policy – enjoy a typical sibling relationship. Their affectionate quarrels slowly subside into the darkness as they fall asleep amid the modern coolness of a newly purchased electric fan. But during the night, the earth begins to tremble. The children awake to the cries of their mother and the urgent, unthinkable question of a rescue worker: “Who should be saved: the girl or the boy?” Trapped under the same slab, digging out one would inevitably result in collapsing the wreckage onto the other. In a whisper, their mother mutters, “The boy.” Considered dead, the girl is laid to rest next to her father’s corpse, but unexpectedly wakes up the following day as an orphan (beautifully played as an adult by rising star Zhang Jingchu) and tries to adjust to a new life within the loving care of the family who adopts her.
As their two lives take different paths over the years, Aftershock uses the core story of the earthquake to explore a controversial issue in Chinese culture – the preference for a son over a daughter – while exploring such complex subjects as survival, family relationships, guilt and post-traumatic stress with equal sensitivity. Feng transforms his characteristically acute and ironic observations of contemporary China into sharp historical analysis. Painting an emotional epic with potent strokes of truth, he has brought to life a new model of disaster cinema that is intimate, choral and uniquely Chinese. –TIFF
Feng Xiaogang (simplified Chinese: 冯小刚; traditional Chinese: 馮小剛; pinyin: Féng Xiǎogāng), (born 28 November 1958) in (Beijing, China) is a Chinese film director. He is well known in China as being a highly successful commercial filmmaker whose comedic films do consistently well in the box office, although Feng has attempted to break out from that mold by making drama or period drama films recently.
The son of a college professor and a factory nurse, he joined Beijing Military Region Art Troupe as a stage designer after high school. He began his cinema work as an art designer in Beijing Television Art Center in 1985. Later, he moved on to write screenplays. During this period, he worked closely with director Zheng Xiaolong and writer Wang Shuo.
In the late 1990s, Feng established himself in a genre called “Hesui Pian”, or “New Year’s Celebration Films” in Chinese cinema. He probably achieved his full fame as the director of the movie Dream Factory (1997). Having achieved… read more
Shoots for tear-jerk melodrama but, with a few exceptions, fails to be as affecting as apparently hoped. Not a bad movie - and well filmed, so it's a good looking movie - but ultimately, rather ordinary. The performances are good with the exception of the one white guy whose delivery is painfully stilted.
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