Tangshan da di zhen
Feng Xiaogang / China / 2010 / 135 min / Mandarin with English, Chinese subtitles / color / 35mmTweet
Best Film, 2010 Asia Pacific Screen Awards
Shattering domestic box office records and unleashing torrents of tears, AFTERSHOCK is a Titanic-sized work of collective mourning for a nation reeling from recent earthquakes. Cleverly evading PRC censors sensitive to depictions of modern suffering, AFTERSHOCK takes its audience back to 1976, when the Great Tangshan Earthquake leveled cities and became arguably the world’s deadliest natural disaster of the 20th century.
But AFTERSHOCK is not about death, but survival. Hours after the earthquake, which the film depicts in uncompromising detail, a mother (played by Xu Fan in a spine-tingling performance) is told that below the rubble are her son and daughter, and to save one means to crush the other to death. In choosing, she sets off a life of guilt for her and the child she saves. She also sets on a life of emotional abandonment the other child who miraculously survives and who heard every word of the mother’s sacrifice.
As its title implies, AFTERSHOCK is not about the disaster but about the cracks that continue to rupture a family in the decades that follow. And yet their resilience mounts to one of the most powerful and uplifting works of family drama China has ever seen. Director Feng Xiaogang, long the most popular director on the mainland, goes beyond his usual comedic populism and creates a life-affirming cinematic epic. – Brian Hu
Co-presented by: EPOCH TIMES, SDSU Confucius Institute
- Director: Feng Xiaogang
- Writer: Su Xiaowei
- Cast: Xu Fan, Zhang Jingchu, Chen Daoming