River film aims to touch a chord
“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.”