Blockbuster From China

From the Wall Street Journal, a look at famed Chinese director Feng Xiaogang’s newest film, “Aftershock”:

An ambitious, emotionally charged, occasionally melodramatic tale, “Aftershock” spans two of China’s most famous earthquakes: the Tangshan quake that killed 250,000 people in 1976 and the Sichuan quake that killed 87,000 in 2008.

Mr. Feng’s real-life wife, Xu Fan, plays Li Yuanni, who in the aftermath of the Tangshan earthquake is faced with a parent’s nightmare decision: Rescuers tell her they can save only one of her 7-year-old twins, both buried in the rubble. Hysterical with grief, she chooses her son, Fang Da, who is rescued, though he loses an arm. The daughter, Fang Deng (Zhang Zifeng), is recovered later, and pronounced dead; the frantic and despondent mother puts her beside the corpse of her husband, then carries their son to find medical help. But the little girl is actually still alive, and when she’s found later by a childless couple—army doctors—they assume she’s an earthquake orphan, adopt her and take her away. Decades pass, another earthquake strikes, and brother (now a successful businessman, played by Li Chen) and sister (a doctor, played by Zhang Jingchu) both head for Sichuan as volunteers. And then…


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