Thursday, 13 October 2011

Tangshan Dadizhen - Aftershock

2010 by Xiaogang Feng - Mandarin , from China

Watching a nicely captured emotional moment, occassionally I can feel tears in my eyes. But it is rarely that the tears flow down. Watching this epic disastrous family saga, I was not feeling tears, but I could feel tears flowing down like rivers. I dont remember the last time when this occured to me. A hand kerchief is a must watching this movie, I bet even the ultra hard hearted would cry. It is actually Hollywood who makes the most movies on disasters. In fact it is their best selling plot. They are the masters in inducing fear and making money of it. But I can hardly pick a Hollywood disaster movie with a real heart. Of course, there was a Titanic. But after watching T D, I could not think about a single movie which can match this one. A family saga out of a disaster.

The 1976 Tangshan earthquake had killed more than 2,40,000 people. A young mother lost her husband and soon has to chose between her twins, as only one could be saved from the rubbles and finally chose for her son and soon moves to the refugee camp. The girl, who could hear very well the decision of her mother, however is alive and is adopted by a military couple who were in the rescue team. The movie is about the next 32 years, when the girl and the boy grows up, seperately. The girl with a real hatred for the mother who chose to not have her, and the boy with lots of love for the mother who though alive, mourns her husband and girl every day.

'God - You Bastard' - screams out the mother towards the skies, in a brilliant shot, when she finds her husband and daughter dead. If I have to chose the best heart felt moment from all the movies, I might chose this one. That was such a stupendous moment and is like a pre cursor of an epic movie. The first 20 minutes is all about the 1976 earth quake and this has been so brilliantly captured, as good or even better than any Hollywood movie. But therein, starts the real movie and it is all about a family.

Of course, even in that first 20 minutes, there are so many moments which are so brilliant, emotionally. But what follows is a like such a beautiful family story. A mother who has lost everything except for a young boy who lost his hand. A little girl, who is adopted by a loving couple from the People's Liberation Army, who finds it impossible to forget the words of her mother - save my son - and hence decides to not go back to Tangshan any more, inspite of the insistence of her foster father. The son, who grows up with the mother and the foster parents of the girl are there too, but its the two female characters, the mother and the girl who makes this movie a real family saga. And the love for the family is so much an important factor in this movie, from all the characters except the girl who have this hatred for her mother. The son's love for his mother trying to get her the best of comforts at the old age, the love of foster parents to the girl and vice versa and especially of the mother who does not want to move out of Tangshan, in the belief of her husband and daughter's soul finding it difficult to find her is so beautiful. The latter especially is so touching.

As the movie progress, all would definitely wish for a reunion of the family and the movie does exactly the same. But the journey towards it goes on like a real family epic. And that final reunion is so moving and emotional that I am sure, I will cry, even if I watch it again. I am sure I am going to watch this movie again.

The whole 32 years is told in a fast pace and it definitely looks like the director asked for some extra work from the editor. I sincerely felt, some scenes could have been more elaborate. How many movies can give us this feeling actually. In TD, there are more than a couple of scenes where we wish we could have had little bit more. The meeting of the brother and sister after 32 years, for one example. I specifically liked the idea that the reunion of the brother and sister happened at another earth quake site, in 2008.

Just because of the above, I am sure, there might be many who would argue this movie could have been much better as an epic movie. I too think, this movie could have been lengthier, but I am extremely satisfied with what I saw. The beauty and the epic nature of the story is so brilliant and beautiful that it can help us forgo any negatives. For me, there are hardly any negatives. Brilliant script and director, brilliant in the technical aspects including the CG which is pure world class and top brilliant performances by all in the cast except the white guy who came as the husband of the girl. It is ok, because he hardly has two scenes.

Just another moment, when I sincerely wish India starts releasing movies from across the world. Right now we only go for Hollywood. I know so many people who boast about watching international movies, but actually hasnt seen anything out of Hollywood. And for many Chinese movies means the Jackie Chan movies of the 80's. I am confident now that China has made a big leap into the modern world of movies and are right now making world class movies, may it be entertainers or artistic ones. For all movie lovers of India, I hope India will soon globalize as far as Cinema is concerned and start releasing movies from across the world. It is such a pity our people dont get to see such epics as Tangshan Dadizhen.