Patriotic films biggest winners of China’s National Day holiday

By Bi Mengying and Tao Mingyang Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/7 18:53:40

Promotional materials for The Captain, My People, My Country and The Climbers Photos: IC

Promotional materials for The Captain, My People, My Country and The Climbers Photos: IC

Promotional materials for The Captain, My People, My Country and The Climbers Photos: IC

Three patriotic films that premiered on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), My People, My Country, The Captain and The Climber, became the biggest winners of the Nation Day holiday period. By Monday, the last day of the seven-day holiday, the three films led the Chinese mainland box office, grossing 2.08 billion yuan ($291 million), 1.82 billion yuan and 770 million yuan respectively, according to Chinese ticketing platform and box-office tracker Maoyan.

Amazing stories, ordinary people

Real stories were the main focus of the three films. The Climbers is dedicated to the members of a Chinese mountaineering team who overcame formidable challenges to reach the top of Mount Qomolangma (commonly known as Mount Everest in the West) in the 1970s, while The Captain is based on a tense real-life event in which the captain of Sichuan Airlines flight is forced to make an emergency landing. 

As for My People, My Country, the anthology film sees a group of directors led by Chen Kaige render seven important historical moments since the founding of the PRC in 1949 from never-before-seen perspectives. On Chinese media review site Douban, the film has an 8/10 from nearly 300,000 reviews.      

Rather than depicting these historical events from a broad perspective, the film focuses on the ordinary people who were quietly making contributions to these milestones through their efforts.

"I like how the film describes each story from an individual person's perspective and how those milestone occurred in China's growing process affect the people. You don't have to be a soldier or a scientist to contribute. There are lots you can do as an ordinary person. This film shows love between friends, families, partners and all different types of love build up to the love of the land, the country and the people," wrote netizen Yaffatest-26827 in a review on movie site IMBd.

For instance, most Chinese people are familiar with the 1949 PRC founding ceremony. 

However, the first story of My People, My Country, zooms in on the little-known story of Lin Zhiyuan, an engineer who conquered tremendous challenges to ensure the automatic flag raising gear at the grand ceremony functioned as it should.  

International run

The three films were also screened internationally in regions such as North America, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. 

A staff member of the ODEON cinema, the largest cinema chain in the UK, at Haymarket in London told the Global Times that tickets for My People, My Country had to be booked at least two days in advance due to the high demand for the limited-run showing. Also, in Hatfield, a town about 30 kilometers away from London, overseas Chinese organization booked the entire screening hall for the film for Chinese international students and the local Chinese community. 

"We were a group of five to six. We wanted to sit together but there weren't many seats left in the back. So we had to sit in the second row in the front," said Jason Liu, who went to see My People, My Country on its first day of screening in Sydney. 

Liu also acknowledged that the film was very different from what he had expected since it told the stories of ordinary people. He was especially impressed by the story about Gao Yuan. A fictional character created for the film, Gao represents the numerous researchers, scientists and people who dedicated their lives to the successful detonation of China's first atomic bomb. 

In the film, Gao, like others on the secretive mission, cuts off contact with his family, friends and lover. He dies from radiation poisoning after he tries to save some malfunctioning equipment and prevent further damage. 

"I was touched by the story. I think researchers in general face many difficulties and challenges beyond anything people can imagine," said Liu, who himself currently works as a researcher in the petroleum and AI industries. 

In his opinion, shedding light on the anonymous heroes behind the scenes instead of China's magnificent achievements made the film more relatable to the audiences.
Newspaper headline: A different perspective

Posted in: FILM

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