The centenary celebrations of the Chinese Communist Party have found its way onto celluloid with ‘1921’, releasing in UAE cinemas this week.
The big budget film, which is being rolled out globally, has already opened to a thunderous applause in China. Co-directed by Huang Jianxin and Zheng Dasheng, the film tells the story of the founding of the Communist Party 100 years ago with a star-studded cast portraying many of the leading figures of the time.
The movie re-enacts the story of the party’s early years, including some of the key incidents leading to the founding of the CCP, which includes the May Fourth Movement, led by co-founder of the CCP Li Dazhao (Li Chen).
More than 100 stars from China’s entertainment industry are featured in the film, including Huang Xuan and Ni Ni, along with Wang Renjun, who plays Mao Zedong, the founding father of the country.
The film was first screened at the Shanghai International Film Festival before it went on general release, stirring up controversy for its cast list that included names of stars who had accumulated bad press over the years.
But the brief discord couldn’t keep viewers away when it went on general release in China on July 1. According to the China Movie Data Information Network, the film took 81.60 million yuan ($12.6 million) on its opening day, and 44.2 million yuan the next day.
Chinese actress and filmmaker Jia Ling applauded the movie, saying Huang fleshed out every character.
“Faced with the distress of the nation, the revolutionary forefathers in the early days of the founding of the party confronted death with faith and firm conviction … This is awe-inspiring,” she said on her microblogging account.
In an interview with CGTN, Jianxin said the idea behind the film was to educate audiences. “Ten years ago, the movie ‘Beginning of the Great Revival’ chronicled the beginning of the Wuchang uprising to Jiaxing’s Nanhu. We shot such a long period, which is equivalent to a total of 10 years from 1911 to 1921.”
He continued: “This time, we focused on the period from 1920 to 1921 because in the decade between the last film and 2021, more detailed historical documents about the first National Congress of the Communist Party of China have been released and materials are abundant. In fact, the audience not only wants to know about the big events but also wants to know the personal stories of individuals. The characters are supported by details and emotions. If there are more of these things, we can have a bigger space for our creation.”
The director also spoke about educating a younger generation with his labour of love. “We hope to get a little help from genre movies because nowadays young people learn history through movies. They don’t read the books before they come to see your movie, so our movies should have genre expression. The audience will follow a story, follow the characters and follow the emotions,” said Jianxin.
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1921 releases in UAE cinemas on July 8 with English subtitles