xi's moments

As blockbuster likely heralds new dawn for China's sci-fi filmmaking, story of unity gets attention

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-02-10 16:10

Poster of The Wandering Earth. [Photo/Mtime]

BEIJING -- China's homegrown sci-fi blockbuster "The Wandering Earth" scored at the holiday box office. As its visual effects, considered to rival Hollywood, impress a global audience, a united human community when facing calamity as in the film too gets attention.

The New York Times quoted Director Guo Fan in an article as saying that he consciously avoided making one main character, a Chinese astronaut aboard an international space station who has to contend with a HAL-like computer, a do-it-alone superhero.

"The fight to save Earth is fought instead by an ensemble, including an affable Russian cosmonaut," said the newspaper, adding that the film "has a vision of the international collaboration necessary to cope with the threats facing the planet."

"Jingoism" is a label "The Wandering Earth" rids itself of, the Times added.

Mankind, in "The Wandering Earth," is threatened by a dying, swelling sun, hence a generations-long space journey of them to look for a new one. At the center of the story are a Chinese astronaut and his emotionally estranged son, who join a global mission to prevent Earth from crashing into Jupiter.

"It's patriotic without being sensationally nationalistic," wrote Scott Mendelson, a senior contributor to Forbes, in a recent review. As Hollywood has set rules and rivals follow, the film makes sure "to do its own thing."

When the film nears its end, an international force comes to a Chinese team's aid at the last minute and gives a final try to save Earth.

It shows the Chinese characters "eagerly cooperate with an international force of largely nameless heroes," said a popular user review on imdb.com, an online film database. "It's another reminder that in this depressing future, even the Chinese strength cannot succeed alone."

The film "puts a strong focus on collective global action, on the need for international cooperation, and for the will of the group over the will of the individual," wrote Tasha Robinson, a film critic at the Verge.

"The Wandering Earth" has gained more than 1.8 billion yuan (about $267.1 million) in box office sales as of Sunday, according to Maoyan, a professional box office tracker.

"As China gets into the action-blockbuster business, it'll continue to be fascinating to see how the country brings its own distinctive voices and talents into a global market," wrote Robinson on the Verge.

"Once every country is making would-be international crossovers, the strongest appeal may come from the most distinctive, personal visions with the most to say about the cultures they come from," added Robinson.

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