River film aims to touch a chord

China Daily (Canada) - - TORONTO - By XU­FAN

“Wind is rag­ing. Horses are whin­ny­ing. The Yel­low River is roar­ing.”

The lyrics of The Yel­low River Can­tata boosted the fight­ing spirit of theChi­ne­se­when­fac­ing the Ja­panese dur­ing wartime and in­flu­enced later gen­er­a­tions, too.

Now, a movie based on the can­tata aims to stir au­di­ences.

The Yel­low River, a cin­e­matic mix of a can­tata con­cert and po­etry recita­tion, opened in cine­mas na­tion­wide on Sun­day.

Cast mem­bers such as ac­tor Pu Cunxin were seen at a preview in Bei­jing last week, while China Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra con­duc­tor Yu Long and pi­anist Lang Lang re­motely par­tic­i­pated in the event. The China Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra per­forms the can­tata.

The eight-move­ment can­tata was writ­ten by Chi­nese com­poser Xian Xing­hai in 1939, two years af­ter the War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion (1937-45) broke out.

Set along the shores of the Yel­low River, it eu­lo­gizesChina’s glo­ri­ous history and the strug­gles of the Chi­nese peo­ple, and also de­scribes the Ja­panese in­vaders’ atroc­i­ties at the time.

“The can­tata can be seen as the peak in the history of Chi­nese sym­phony, and so far few works sur­pass its in­flu­ence and achieve­ment,” says Pu, who re­cites a poem on which the can­tata is based. The 62-year-old award-win­ning ac­tor was re­cently se­lected as the chair­man of the China Theater As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Even to­day the can­tata has the power to en­cour­age the coun­try to go ahead with­out any fear of chal­lenge,” he says of the bold style of the mu­sic form.

Teng Wenji, the movie’s di­rec­tor, tells China Daily that the pro­ject com­mem­o­rates the 70th an­niver­sary of the end ofWorldWar II.

“We shot the China Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra’s per­for­mance in its re­hearsal room, with green cloth cov­er­ing the room from floor to ceil­ing,” Teng says.

Dur­ing post­pro­duc­tion, Tengsays, they re­placed the back­ground with rel­e­vant scenes such as the Hukou Wa­ter­falls of the Yel­low River.

Scenes fea­tur­ing the Ja­panese in­vaders’ atroc­i­ties, the flee­ing of refugees and war ru­ins were also in­ter­wo­ven with the per­for­mance.

“It’s a good way to pop­u­lar­ize the mu­sic,” says pi­anist Lang Lang.

“If a con­cert is brought to the cin­ema, it can reach a broader view­er­ship and lower the thresh­old for au­di­ences. Peo­ple can ad­mire the sym­phonic cho­rus while sip­ping cold drinks and eat­ing pop­corn.”

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