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A famine with multiple contributing factors and devastating effects during the Second Sino-Japanese war is chronicled from the official perspective of reporters, generals, politicians and real families whose lives were forever altered by drastic measures they were forced to take in order to survive. Alternately ignoring the dire nature of the famine and its subsequent exodus of millions of people from the Hunen province, and minimizing its devastation to the outside world, the Chinese Nationalist government of the time is one which seems to be over burdened by ongoing war efforts and corruption in the distribution of relief supplies. Policy and private life are worlds apart in stopping the devastation shown through the portrayals of those who lived to tell the tale and their accounts of those who were not so lucky, of whom there were many (3 million.) This is a true story based upon Liu Zhenyun's novel "Remembering 1942," Zhenyun himself is the descendant of a survivor of the 1942 ... Written by
Feng Xioagang can be considered China's - possibly Asia's - most substantial film maker. His output is increasingly imposing and his box office clout means that the content of his work must come under intense official scrutiny. That made the IF I WERE THE ONE movies quite amazing as an expression of the notion that to be rich is glorious.
BACK TO 1942 is clearly a tent pole movie for the Chinese cinema and then carries a double load. It is an intense, long, demanding account of the 1942 Hunan famine and refugee exodus, made more terrible by the parallel war with the Japanese and also a revision of history with Chiang Kai Shek now shown as both calculating and remote, as well as caring and authoritative but only a support player in the story of the land lord and serf reduced to destitution on their awful journey.
Intriguingly, Theodore White writer of sixties Wolper Documentaries and "The Mountain Road" shows up effectively in the person of Adrian Brody, as a character.
Master crafted, some of the staging is exceptional. The bombing raids are great set pieces and the film manages to keep disaster chic in hand, even if it's so grim.
Essential for the serious movie goer, a strain on the casual entertainment seeker.
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