Feng Xiaogang, the mainland Chinese director responsible for such epics as Aftershock
, as well as the blockbusting romantic drama If You Are The One
and its sequel, seems determined not to be outdone by fellow countryman Zhang Yimou, by casting not one but two big name Hollywood stars in his upcoming wartime drama. Zhang brought The Dark Knight
star Christian Bale to China for last year's The Flowers Of War
, which at the time smashed box office records to become the most successful Chinese language film at the domestic box office.
Feng's new film, Back To 1942 - depicting the horrific drought and famine that swept Henan Province during the Sino-Japanese War - features turns from two Academy Award winners: Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins. From what we see in the new trailer, Brody plays journalist Theodore H. White, whose eyewitness accounts of what was happening to the Chinese people while the government was too preoccupied with the war appeared in Time Magazine. Meanwhile, Robbins plays a Catholic priest who tries to help the victims of the disaster. The film also stars Feng's wife Xu Fan and Zhang Hanyu and is based on the novel Remembering 1942 by Liu Zhenyun.
Feng and the film's backers Huayi Brothers will be hoping not only to equal the performance of Zhang's film in China, but also to far exceed its disappointing reception overseas. It was hoped that the combination of foreign stars and high production values would be more appealing both to Western audiences and Academy voters, but it proved not to be the case. This new English-heavy trailer shows a concerted effort from the film's marketers to attract foreign interest in the film. But, even with big name stars, is there a mainstream audience for this kind of historical drama outside China?
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