THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI
Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Radha
Mitchell, Chow Yun Fat,
Michelle Yeoh, Guang Li, and
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 125 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Arthur Cohn, Wieland
Schulz-Keil, Peter Loehr,
Jonathan Shteinman, and Martin
Writer: James MacManus and Jane
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcia Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833; Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com
The movie minimizes Hogg’s connections to the Chinese Communist Party that was fighting the Japanese invaders while continuing to make socialist changes to the countryside, including teaching the boys how to become part of the Party’s “cooperative” movement at the time. It also makes drastic changes to Hogg’s story, including the reason why the school was set up.
This only serves to blur and conceal Hogg’s motivations in going out of his way helping the boys at the school. The movie vaguely indicates that it was due to Hogg’s increasing pacifism, but even that is left unclear. Thus, the average viewer may leave the movie theater scratching his or her head about Hogg’s motivations. It also may distance them from the story and its characters, which is well filmed and acted.
Be that as it may, the movie does show Hogg having a long-term relationship with a Communist Army officer. Also, the Nationalist Chinese Army officials, who opposed the Communists then and even more so after the war are not portrayed in a good light. In that sense, the movie’s Communist, socialist leanings do come through slightly in this portrayal. Because of this, and the movie’s strange revisionist history of Hogg’s real biography, THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI warrants an excessive rating.
Of course, ultimately Marxism, and its divergent ideology Maoism, has little or no rational foundation for the compassion and moral indignation they apply when they talk about humanity, including the alleged exploitation of the working class or “proletariat.” In Biblical Christianity, however, morality and ethics are based on the eternal, transcendent ethical/moral character of God, as expressed in God’s Holy Word, the Bible, which is our ultimate moral, metaphysical and theological authority or guidebook. A Marxist might tell you that their morality and policies are based on a rational, objective scientific investigation of life as it truly is, but a truly rational, objective and scientific investigation of life as it truly is can actually reveal the superiority of the Bible and the superiority of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI is beautifully photographed and well acted, but its truncated history blurs and conceals Hogg’s motivations in helping the boys. Thus, viewers may be left scratching their heads wondering where Hogg’s huge compassion originates. The movie does give a positive portrayal of the Communist general, however. This portrayal and the movie’s revisionist history warrant a strong negative rating. The movie’s not good enough to receive a strong commendation.