Aftershock (Chinese Film)
Original Title: 唐山大地震
Alternate English Title: Aftershock
Release date: July 22, 2010
Director: Xiaogang Feng
Novel by: Ling Zhang
Screenplay by: Xiaowe Su
Cast: Fan Xu, Daoming Chen, Jin Chen, Chen Li, Guogiang Zhang
When I think of IMAX… I think National Geographic under the sea films, Star Wars, and The Dark Knight. But let me tell you, Aftershock is playing a completely different game. Aftershock is a drama… it’s a tear-jerking, heart-tugging drama. It depicts the story of a family that was forever affected by the 1976 7.8 magnitude earthquake in the city of Tangshan, which had a reported death toll of 240 000 people.
When I first heard about Aftershock, not being familiar with Feng’s style, I thought, “Oh, China is making their big Hollywood Disaster Film on IMAX a la 2010“, and boy, was I wrong. Sure, the film contains a luscious (and devastating) sequence of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that lasts several long minutes… which felt like a mega-earthquake on screen. However, after that scene, which pretty much starts the film, it aptly turns into a drama telling the struggle of a mother that had to choose between her daughter and her son, and the hurt of a daughter that believes she has been abandoned.
The film lasts about two hours, and I was possibly in tears within the first few minutes as the earthquake struck, and the audience immediately feels connected to the mom and her kids. It instantly reminds me of writers telling me, “You need something big so your reader believes the connection can happen,” and for the viewers watching Aftershock, this big event is the devastating earthquake. Then, when you thought the worst of the crying was done, a brand new wave came over you and you were at it again. I think I was bawling for a good hour and a half of the film.
Oh how I wish this opened in America so there could be ANY nomination for actress Fan Xu – playing the mother –though, the whole cast was remarkable.