Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins Despair in Trailer for Feng Xiaogang's BACK TO 1942

James Marsh, Asian Editor
Feng Xiaogang, the mainland Chinese director responsible for such epics as Aftershock and Assembly, as well as the blockbusting romantic drama If You Are The One and its sequel, seems determined not to be outdone by fellow countryman Zhang Yimou, by casting not one but two big name Hollywood stars in his upcoming wartime drama. Zhang brought The Dark Knight star Christian Bale to China for last year's The Flowers Of War, which at the time smashed box office records to become the most successful Chinese language film at the domestic box office. 

Feng's new film, Back To 1942 - depicting the horrific drought and famine that swept Henan Province during the Sino-Japanese War - features turns from two Academy Award winners: Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins. From what we see in the new trailer, Brody plays journalist Theodore H. White, whose eyewitness accounts of what was happening to the Chinese people while the government was too preoccupied with the war appeared in Time Magazine. Meanwhile, Robbins plays a Catholic priest who tries to help the victims of the disaster. The film also stars Feng's wife Xu Fan and Zhang Hanyu and is based on the novel Remembering 1942 by Liu Zhenyun.

Feng and the film's backers Huayi Brothers will be hoping not only to equal the performance of Zhang's film in China, but also to far exceed its disappointing reception overseas. It was hoped that the combination of foreign stars and high production values would be more appealing both to Western audiences and Academy voters, but it proved not to be the case. This new English-heavy trailer shows a concerted effort from the film's marketers to attract foreign interest in the film. But, even with big name stars, is there a mainstream audience for this kind of historical drama outside China?   
Around the Internet:
  • jjw

    This is gonna be a great movie. adrien brody and tim robbins are top notch. Can't wait to see.

  • jjw

    Not another PRC nationalism propaganda movies. I'm chinese and I'm embarrassed by all these let's not upset the government flag-waving films. Give me an old cheapo Hong Kong flicks any day. sheesh

  • paratize

    Gotta say I've already gotten tired of these big Chinese war epics, especially ones that relate to the Japanese invasion of the mainland and usually involve one or more foreigners often playing Priests or other heroic figures that 'save' the Chinese people.

  • Adam Siennica

    It looks awesome! Love Feng Xiaogang work. It must be better thant dull "Flowers of War".

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