The Opium War
- 2h 33min
Historical Drama starting in 1839 in Guangzhou where British merchants dealing with opium are to be executed because the opium is destroying the Empire. After the burning of 20,000 boxes of ... Read allHistorical Drama starting in 1839 in Guangzhou where British merchants dealing with opium are to be executed because the opium is destroying the Empire. After the burning of 20,000 boxes of opium by the Chinese, England declares war since the burned opium was the property of the ... Read allHistorical Drama starting in 1839 in Guangzhou where British merchants dealing with opium are to be executed because the opium is destroying the Empire. After the burning of 20,000 boxes of opium by the Chinese, England declares war since the burned opium was the property of the British commercial attache who had bought it from the British merchants.
It deals with a subject, which has been THE major thorn in China's dealings with the West over the past 150 years, and the single most important factor in forming China's foreign policy strategy right up until the present day. The film is seemingly unobtainable in the west either on DVD or VHS. This particular viewing was all dubbed into German, so I cannot comment on the authenticity on the use of Cantonese dialect in the southern scenes and the use of Mandarin in the Beijing and Tianjin episodes. However, it is most unlikely that these would not be addressed, bearing in mind the fim maker. Similarly, as there are genuine British actors in the film, one would imagine their contribution to be reasonably authentic - certainly their body language was throughout.
Your first thoughts about this film would most likely immediately be to dismiss it as pure communist government propaganda, especially being released in 1997, the year of the handback of Hong Kong to China. But you would be very rash to make such a judgement. Many of the characters are drawn with sympathetic care, both on the Chinese and the foreign sides, and an authentic attempt to show the real causes of the war is made. Yes, there are stereotypes, but not as many as to cause you to lose your interest in the film's main theme.
This story needs to be told and for the British to acknowledge openly and without reservation what they did and the reasons why they did it. Interesting that they still really have not done so. Hong Kong to the average British person means designer clothes, Chinese takeaways and the opium war is still a large blank in the consciousness for most of the population.
The Germans have come to terms with what they did 60 years ago, it's time we learnt from their example and did the same with our own actions more than a century ago, enslaving an entire nation with government-sponsored illegal drug trafficking on a huge scale. If we tried that policy today, we would be the pariah of the UN !
See this film if you can - it is admittedly not a first-rank masterpiece, partially because of the stilted scenery, especially the foreign concession, which looks rather like part of Disney's Adventureland, and partially because of the lack of realism in certain parts of the battle scenes - the British army seems to have a suspiciously high proportion of oriental recruits! However, it is an opportunity to see an historical injustice from the side of the victims at last, and in a manner which any fair-minded person ought to acknowledge as remarkably unbiased in the circumstances.
- Oct 21, 2002