The epic story of a family separated as a result of the Great Tangshan Earthquake of 1976.
Before watching this film I had no recollection of the magnitude of this Earthquake. According to National Geographic, "When the dust settled, a staggering 240,000 people had been killed, and at least 500,000 more were injured. Making it the largest earthquake death toll in 400 years."
The film presents the facts interwoven in a fictional story about one family, their survival and the Aftershock. Much like James Cameron did with Titanic when he added Jack and Rose and their love story.
And, just like Rose and Jack's story, this storyline is rather horrifying. As, at the beginning of the film the earthquake itself is filmed in great detail and what happens to individual residents is depicted. Watching, while not knowing what to expect, I was one part appalled and one part glued to the screen to see what happened.
Living quietly in Tangshan are truck driver Da Qiang, his wife Yuan Ni and their twin children, Fang Da, a boy, and Fang Deng, a girl. They are a relatively happy family.
On the 27th July 1976, an earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude on the Richter Scale hit the town in the middle of the night.
Da Qiang dies trying to rescue the children from their apartment. When a collapsed beam traps both her children, Yuan Ni has to decide between saving her son or daughter and she chooses the son.
In the worse turn of events the daughter overhears her Mother's choice. Fang Deng is devastated and inconsolable but somehow she survives and is rescued by a soldier who adopts her and renames her Wang Deng.
Remember though that her family have no idea she survived. So, fast-forward 32 years and another earthquake has hit Tangshan. Wang Deng, now married and living in Vancouver, travels to China to join the rescue team.
And, this is where the real aftershock occurs, as she meets up with Fang Da, her Brother, and learns what has happened to her Mother since they last were together. There are shocks all round as the family adjust to Fang Deng's survival.
They also have a fair bit of bitterness to resolve before it can end happily, after all her Mother did choose to let her die. And, if you dwell on that decision it will definitely mess with your head.
Points of Interest:
- The film was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 2010 Academy Awards.
- There are no Box Office statistics that I can find.
- The Mise en Scene was pretty amazing, in particular those scenes inside the buildings.
- The actual death toll is a little vague, some sites are saying up to 500,000 people lost their lives. While most set the figure at around 250,000. A devastating tragedy.