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on June 6, 2013
Bought this as a recommended movie because I'm primarily a WWII and history buff. I must say, I was stunned at how truly EPIC this movie is. The cinematography is absolutely spectacular - some of the best work I've ever seen from a foreign film and it rivals anything I've ever seen from any movie for that matter. Unlike most foreign movies, this one doesn't have that "Gee, I'm watching a foreign movie" feel to it.

If you do not like reading subtitles, STAY AWAY FROM THIS MOVIE. THIS IS A MOVIE YOU MUST READ, UNLESS YOU SPEAK CHINESE. It is 2-1/2 hours long, so watching it and reading it at the same time is challenging at times and I did pause the disc and go back a few times just to catch everything - there are many scenes where incredible scenes are unfolding but you're busy reading the text so you can't fully appreciate what's going on. I personally don't mind doing that, but if it bothers you, then that's something to consider.

The story is just what people have said, so I'll not rehash that - it is a horrifying and tragic chapter of WWII history that has been completely glossed over and forgotten, but perhaps thanks to this remarkable film, it will get some long overdue attention. The roles played by Adrien and Tim Robins are bit parts, so their contribution to the movie is minimal, which is also great for me, personally, because I don't particularly care for either of them. Anybody could've played their parts and the movie would've been just as good - the Chinese characters carry this film and they are OUTSTANDING.

The CG work on the aerial attack scenes is slightly sub-par compared to most modern movies and has a bit of a video game look to it, but I've seen much worse - and that is the only thing I can even halfway criticize this film for. They had a cast of thousands for this movie, used actual locations instead of doing a ton of CG work, the explosions are real (and there are a lot of them), the wounds are gruesome and realistic to the point of being just as disturbing (if not more so) as what you see in Saving Private Ryan.

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough - it is a REMARKABLE achievement in every possible respect. The story line is incredible, and even better, it apparently is largely true because it is based on interviews with a Chinese girl who lived through the experience, which was conducted by an American reporter who was there first-hand in 1942 and witnessed it himself. If I understand it correctly, this collaboration of their record of events was published in 1964, and that work serves as the story line for this movie - thus the name, "Back to 1942" - it was a return to a horrifying time in their lives for both the reporter and the woman he was interviewing.

If you're a WWII history fanatic, this is an essential movie you MUST have in your collection. They NAILED all the details of the Chinese and Japanese weapons, uniforms, vehicles, and everything else throughout the movie - incredible attention to detail. If you're just a fan of truly sweeping huge scale movies, this one will also impress you - why this movie didn't win numerous awards is beyond me. Whomever is responsible for paying attention to amazing foreign movies wasn't paying attention here.

BUY THIS ONE - it is the "Ben Hur" of Chinese suffering and chaos during WWII.
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on May 16, 2013
Before you load this Blu Ray into your player make sure you have a box of tissues next to you for surely you will need them to view this masterpiece for truly it is the saddest film I have ever watched. It is certainly the darkest of times in China's World War 2 history, and a film that will remain with you long after its 151 minutes have ended. The plight of the peasants, the richness of their family history, the unbelievable courage of their lives in this blackest of historical times brought to "spectacular epicness" as only Well Go USA can in this pristine not soon to be forgotten Blu Ray pressing. If you have the stomach for this, and I sincerely hope you do, buy it and sit back and learn about a very tragic time. You will not soon forget any of it, and maybe that is what great films do for this is surely one GREAT film. Thanks for reading.
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on May 18, 2013
I like books and movies that can make me feel the story being portrayed. This movie sure did that for me. The suffering that these people experienced was awful. But their selfless understanding and love for each other made me feel good and hopeful about humanity. In the midst of all that misery many of them were able to put their own needs aside and give of themselves to others. I would like to recommend a similar story - "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" by Katherine Boo

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on May 15, 2013
This is the story of the Henan province disaster as one of the darkest moments in 20th century Chinese history. It tells the story of the plight of 30 million Chinese affected by the great drought of 1942 and their attempted escape from hunger while being bombed by the Japanese during WW2. Over 3 million people died and this 2 1/2 hour film is a harrowing account of their misery and suffering. It is superbly done in this stunning Blu-Ray disc. This is just another reminder of the horrors of WW2.
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on June 27, 2013
This horrifying true story about world war 2 china is a very gut wrenching and sad movie. Three million people are starved to death or killed in combat in henan province china in 1942. We follow two families as they try to escape to another province. The realistic bombing scenes are very horrible as people and animals are blown to bits by the merciless Japanese. The whole movie is like one long horror that never ends, and it's a true horror. The Japanese were responsible for 30 million deaths duruing the war, and many were in China. The acting here is superb and the lead actor loses everything and everyone and that is conveyed with a incredible performance from him. Tim Robbins and Adrian brody have small roles in this one and both are excellent as you would expect. The story does jump back to Chang kai sheck as he tries to fight the war and deal with the famine. Corruptoin only makes it worse in the HEnan province for everyone including him. I think we can never understand how bad things can really be on this planet, but the lead character does when he tells his dead wife "in your next life don't come back here' and who could blame him. After watching this movie , one can only be thankful never to have gone through a famine. Although if the carbon levels continue to climb the people of even future America will experience mass famine and crop failure , at least they won't have to be in the middle of a World war though!. I think this flick deserved a best foreign picture Oscar. It that well done and acted. Watch it with your kids when they start complaining about how bad their lives are. They will then learn the truth for sure, that as one starving woman says as she steals food after her husband is murdered 'I lost my husband and a man is worth two crackers at least'. the blu ray looks excellent and it's in widescreen as it was shown. This movie is in Chinese and English. IT's mostly Chinese so they you have to read the English subtitles which is fine.
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on January 28, 2014
This is not a Chinese story, it's a story of some of the worst human suffering imaginable. I had no idea that such an event had ever occurred. What the governments did to those people was beyond egregious. And I say it is not a Chinese story because seeing it, one can understand how it could happen anywhere. That the greed, denial, corruption, ignorance, apathy and ego portrayed in this movie caused me to wonder what goes on in places like SubSaharan Africa and other third world countries today. It is a very haunting and quite disturbing movie that is exceptionally well done and well acted. I strongly encourage you to see it, if for no other reason than to open your eyes to some disturbing realities.
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on April 8, 2014
This was a very sad movie of how greed, indifference of the plight of others. I am Chinese and it made me very sad to see the Chinese government have so little regard for their own people. I cannot begin to really imagine what these people had to face, seeing their loved ones slowly dying of starvation, leaving all that you loved just to find food.

For a long time the wealthy and the government oppressed and exploited others of their own and it is very sad to know this. And there were even things regarding people resorted to cannibalism in order to just stay alive. It is not like they wanted to.

As humans, we should regard every life as valuable, but this film showed how some were so cruel and indifferent. But, the compassion of one American journalist was good and he did help bring about help to some of the people who were left or survived.

Sometimes people in government positions think they are so high and mighty and it extends to all governments of every nation and they can lose touch with the reality of most people they are governing. Very good, but horrifyingly sad movie.
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on May 9, 2014
I had hoped that this movie would be as good as Feng Xiaogang's "Aftershock", and I respect the fact that this movie tells true events, but it is long and boring. You basically see refugees starving to death for two and a half hours. That's about it. I'm glad I have it in my collection because it has some actors I like, but I won't be watching this very much.
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on August 19, 2013
Back to 1942 is a Chinese Historical Film based on a novel by Liu Zhenyun Remembering 1942 about a deadly drought & famine in Henan China during the second world war , a humanitarian crisis first sparked by drought , government corruption & war with Japan and one of the darkest era in Chinese history , A well directed acted action drama movie and good cinema photography as well but not quite as good as Empire of the Sun , how ever Back to 1942 is a good entertaining movie / approx 146 minutes long in Chinese Mandarin & English .
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on March 5, 2014
An epic of suffering in a rural Chinese province afflicted with a multitude of disasters both natural and man-made. There are sequences of bombing and strafing runs by Japanese planes on combined civilian and military columns that for realism and immediacy easily rival any number of recent films about World War II, including Saving Private Ryan. The Nationalists and their Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek are shown alternately withholding or cynically and selectively bestowing (never enough) aid for masses of starving refugees. When Adrien Brody, who plays the American journalist Theodore White, tells Chiang that there have been reports of cannibalism among the refugees, the response is that "no Chinese would ever do that." The Chinese, of course, went on to do just that during Mao's induced famines, which were on a scale that eclipsed the death toll from the drought in Henan. The multiple producer /executive producer credits suggests that the staggering scale of Back to 1942 is the beneficiary of all the new money in China. But surely it could not have been made without the go ahead and resources of her present Communist rulers. Along with showing how (Nationalist) Chinese officials at the highest levels played politics with millions of lives, the film clearly and, at moments, crudely, is appealing to small "n" nationalist and anti-Japanese sentiment.
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