After two very busy weekends, I decided to free myself today to watch the movie 唐山大地震 Aftershock. It was highly rated by the papers and recommended by my DJ. It was touted as not just a disaster movie, but one with a human element in it and be prepared to cry, for it’s rated ten hankies.
After an irritable week, I was all ready to let my emotion run high and sob my heart out, for "those who do not cry in this movie has a heart of steel", quoted one reviewer.
In terms of the ten hankies, that was way over rated. My one tissue was hardly damp, and I’m one who cries while watching Oprah.
The movie straddles four decades, starting in Tangshan in 1976. A pair of twins, brother and sister, are caught under a pillar after the 1976 earthquake which killed 240,000 people, and the mother must make the heart-breaking decision to save either one, for there is only enough man-strength to lift one end of the pillar, killing the one at the other end. The daughter hears her mother say to save the brother. The brother is saved, minus one arm. Although it is not explained, it is implicated by the arrival of her mother-in-law later that the boy is the only bloodline left after her husband is killed. So by saving her son, she has also considered her husband’s family in Jinan.
The little girl survives and is adopted. A decade passes. She grows up to study medicine, while the brother grows up not getting into college. She tries but cannot forget how her mother had sacrificed her for her brother. She drops out of college after getting pregnant and later marries a Canadian. Despite her adoptive father’s urging, she refuses to trace her family in Tangshan.
Another decade passes and we see how China prospers and even the brother, without any college education, drives a BMW. The Sichuan earthquake in 2008 changes everything. The pair of sibling meet during a rescue effort and they are all reunited with the mother. The daughter is apologetic about not contacting her mother these 32 years, after she sees how her mother has suffered, refusing to live a life of luxury, but maintaining her old delipated house for the souls of her departed daughter and husband.
I though the movie was rather draggy at times. I wanted more scenes where I could use my ten hankies. The males next to me did not even take out any hankie. So if like me, you go wanting a good sob, you’ll be disappointed. But if you like a good Chinese drama without any violence, then this is a good one to watch.