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Anti-Japan WWII drama: Entertaining or Upsetting?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 02:29

A look behind the scenes look at one of China's popular anti-Japanese war-era dramas reveals enduring legacies of war. Alicia Powell reports.

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A brigade of Japanese soldiers crouch in the middle of a quiet forest - a director yells "action" and a barrage of explosions suddenly emit from the ground. This is just another day on the set of "The Last Prince," one of the hundreds of cookie-cutter anti-Japanese World War Two television dramas produced in China every year. Most of the set is populated by extras clad in uniforms mimicking those worn by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. SOUNDBITE: Zhen Bihai, actor, saying, (Mandarin) "We didn't witness the Japanese (army) in history, we have only played them in movies. Although we are wearing the Japanese army's uniforms and badges, we still can't feel their cruelty and ruthlessness." As the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II approaches, countless numbers of dramas like "The Last Prince" are produced and broadcast every single day on China's state-run television networks. However, veteran actor, Bai Jintang, remains somewhat weary of the genre. SOUNDBITE: Bai Jintang, actor, saying (Mandarin) "Nowadays many of these dramas are just fabrications, some are even fiction-like. I feel there are too many of them. So when the viewers watch them on TV, they will grow tired (of watching them)." In 2013, China's television regulator ordered a crackdown on dramas featuring the country's battles with Japan during and before World War Two, demanding more serious treatment of these events, after viewers complaints. Li Xiaoqiang, the director of the nearly 40-episode show, has already produced several anti-Japanese war-era dramas and feels strongly that the criticism from Japanese politicians is unfounded. SOUNDBITE: Li Xiaoqiang, director, saying (English): "We are from different countries, I don't care what they (the Japanese) think. I know what I am thinking. You Japanese invaded our country, it is a fact. We defeated you after eight years of resistance or whatever, you went home, this is the fact." Relations between China and Japan have been overshadowed for years by what Beijing calls Japan's refusal to admit to wartime atrocities by its soldiers in China between 1937 and 1945.

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Anti-Japan WWII drama: Entertaining or Upsetting?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 02:29