The Children of Huang Shi

The Children of Huang Shi is based on a true story about the life of a young Englishman George Hogg, portrayed by Rhys Meyers.

Set in war-ravaged China during the late 1930s, Hogg, leds sixty orphaned boys on a journey across the Liu Pan Shan mountains to safety on the edge of the Mongolian desert. The 700 mile hike took months to complete; a harrowing journey for grown men, let alone young boys.

The Children of the Silk Road (Huang Shi) is an absolutely heartbreaking movie. It’s hard to imagine the conditions these children were forced to endure. The end of the movie was touching, in that it gave voice to these boys as adults, their dialog is quite moving. The film is slow to develop in places, which is to be expected when a movie is based in fact, rather than fiction.

This movie has inspired me to learn more about this time period in history.

Amazon posted this review:The Children of Huang Shi is a powerful, inspiring film about a real-life, outsider hero who emerged from Japan’s catastrophic invasion of China in 1937. A British journalist, George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) sneaks into Nanjing at the height of Japan’s destruction of that cosmopolitan city.

Rescued from certain death by a suave rebel named Chen Hansheng (Chow Yun-Fat), Hogg goes deep into China’s countryside in search of another front to the war. Instead of furthering his career, however, Hogg is talked into taking control of a destitute orphanage occupied by starving, lice-ridden, half-savage boys.

A roving nurse, Lee Pearson (Radha Mitchell), keeps Hogg focused on his task, provides him with medical supplies, and ultimately becomes his lover. But the former reporter has to figure many things out on his own, including how to inspire the boys to help fend for themselves.

With the Japanese closing in on the orphanage and the Chinese looking at the boys as likely soldiers, Hogg, Pearson, and Hansheng lead the kids on an extraordinarily strenuous, 700-mile hike to Marco Polo’s so-called Silk Road, leading to the Gobi Desert. The second half of The Children of Huang Shi is taken up by this sometimes deadly labor, and director Roger Spottiswoode balances the dreariness of it with knockout images of mountains and eerie, desert vistas.

The multi-national cast is the best thing about the film, which avoids canonizing the saintly Hogg by not ignoring his sins of pride (he refers to the kids as “my boys” to the wrong Chinese authority, and pays the price) and jealousy. Chow’s jaunty persona adds an essential swagger to this Schindler’s List-like story, but it’s Mitchell’s gritty, soul-weary performance that really grabs one’s attention. —Tom Keogh

The Chronicles of Narnia

This long awaited movie was hyped up in the media for months before the actual release date. I’m certain it made millions of dollars and to be fair, the movie wasn’t bad. Most people gave it rave reviews – except those of us who had viewed and/or own the BBC version of the .

Amazon raves:

C.S. Lewis’s classic novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe makes an ambitious and long-awaited leap to the screen in this modern adaptation. It’s a CGI-created world laden with all the special effects and visual wizardry modern filmmaking technology can conjure, which is fine so long as the film stays true to the story that Lewis wrote. And while this film is not a literal translation–it really wants to be so much more than just a kids’ movie–for the most part it is faithful enough to the story, and whatever faults it has are happily faults of overreaching, and not of holding back.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tells the story of the four Pevensie children, Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan, and their adventures in the mystical world of Narnia. Sent to the British countryside for their own safety during the blitz of World War II, they discover an entryway into a mystical world through an old wardrobe. Narnia is inhabited by mythical, anthropomorphic creatures suffering under the hundred-year rule of the cruel White Witch, (Tilda Swinton, in a standout role). The arrival of the children gives the creatures of Narnia hope for liberation, and all are dragged into the inevitable conflict between evil (the Witch) and good (Aslan the Lion, the Messiah figure, regally voiced by Liam Neeson).

While I must admit the graphic cinematography was outstanding. The story line was butchered beyond reason. The characters were not fully developed, lacked depth and didn’t really touch the viewer on a personal level.

In the 1988 version produced by the BBC, the viewer was drawn into the story; the characters came alive on the screen. The learned professor had some very well delivered and memorable lines. Lucy, in the BBC version, was a memorable character that stole the show, she did an outstanding job as the youngest child, delivering her lines with conviction and sincerity.

If the two movie versions could be combined (let’s face it: technology in the late 80s was not what it is today), this movie would be a timeless classic bar none. The basic plot is the same, and both follow the books pretty close, but the story line in the BBC version wins hands down over the newer, highly acclaimed version.

If you haven’t seen the BBC version, (easily 4 stars) please do. See if you don’t agree.

Additional Selections

The Sound Of Music

When my son was five, we watched The Sound of Music. I don’t mean we watched it once, or even twice. For the entire year my son was five we watched The Sound of Music.

I made it to the ripe old age of 38 without having watched this classic film. To tell you the truth, I had never given it any thought what so ever. Of course, once I began watching this delightful movie, I was hooked. Since it’s my habit to put movies in before bed and I almost always fall asleep before the ending, it takes me several days to watch anything.

This particular movie took me almost two weeks to watch, because the music in the beginning is so calming and soothing, my son and I would both fall asleep early on. It didn’t take too long for me to make a connection – I wanted my son to fall asleep, The Sound of Music makes him sleep – Watch The Sound of Music. So, we did, for an entire year.

Just as all good things must come to an end, so did this period in our lives. We reluctantly put The Sound of Music back on the shelf and quickly moved on to other things. That is until this week…

Shopping at Blockbuster Video we found a 40th Anniversary Edition of Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s,title=”Order The Sound of Music from Amazon now”>The Sound of Music – a two disc set, with a exclusive Interviews with Julie Andrews. I couldn’t wait to get home to watch it.

I didn’t even watch the movie first; I dove right in and started watching the interviews with Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and a taped reunion with the Von Trapp children. I was even delighted to find a copy of the A&E Network film, “The Von Trapp Family: Harmony and Discord“.

The commentaries were delightful, with wonderful shots around the town of Salzburg, Austria and tales of their antics and time spent shooting on location. Julie Andrews was a graceful as ever as she talks about the happenings, behind the scenes.

The actors give a fascinating look into the real lives and the fantasy lives of the Von Trapp family, who fled Salzburg in 1938, leaving behind everything they owned except one, bag each. The real life Von Trapp family later settled in the State of Vermont.

I highly recommend this movie to Sound of Music lovers and to those who have never watched this touching classic film; I especially recommend spending the extra money for the 40th Anniversary Edition, it’s worth it. This is one movie you’ll want to watch time and time again.

The hardest part is figuring out which DVD to watch first. I think I’ll watch the Julie Andrews commentary tonight, it’s one of my favorites. I’ve been watching the DVD set for three days now and I still haven’t made it through the entire selection yet. My absolutely favorite part is the puppet show, that song is so cute and the kids really look like they are enjoying themselves.

What’s your favorite scene?

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