On Screen
Published: Nov 17, 2022 07:12 PM
Promotional material for The Long River Photo: Courtesy of Douban

Promotional material for The Long River Photo: Courtesy of Douban

'The Long River': History drama looks back China's flood control efforts a century ago

Adapted from a historical event that occurred during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the drama The Long River, which debuted on November 11, tells the true story of two flood control heroes.  

After a disastrous flood during the 15th year of the Kangxi Emperor's reign, the young emperor conducts civil service examinations to recruit talents to solve the constant dam bursts happening along the Yellow River in northern China. Therefore the 24-year-old Chen Huang is provided an opportunity to step up and show off his skills. He later joins forces as a flood control official, Jin Fu.

For millennia, the Yellow River has been seen as the "mother river" of Chinese civilization. It not only provides water for irrigation and acts as a channel for transportation of goods, but also supports the development of the economy and society.

Yet the Yellow River also posed danger in the past due to underdeveloped technology leading to burst dams and floods that threatened people's lives.

Over the more than 2,500 years of China's recorded history, the Yellow River has flooded more than 1,500 times, destroying villages and claiming countless lives.

Originating from the middle of Qinghai Province, the Yellow River flows eastward through nine provinces and finally into the Bohai Sea, a course of 5,464 kilometers.

However, it picks up a large amount of sand while passing by the Loess Plateau in Northwest China. This sand gradually accumulates on the river bed after the water slows down in the east, creating a huge potential for floods.

Chen and Jin were two real life heroes in charge of  flood control along the Yellow River. After Jin was promoted as the governor-general of river management, he met Chen, who was very knowledgable about river governance, and took him on as a consultant.

During their 15 years of managing the Yellow River, the duo worked together to reinforce the banks of the Yellow River. Their reinforcement efforts extended until a point near the coastline in Shandong Province.

"We prepped the drama for four years and felt the responsibility on our shoulders as the Yellow River has been considered as the origin of our civilization," said the drama's producer Yao Yuzhu in a public interview.

Global Times