Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 23rd, 2013
BluRay released: May 14th, 2013
Approximate running time: 145 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin / English, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin / English
Subtitles: English, Chinese
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
The plot for Back to 1942 centers around a deadly drought that ravaged China’s Henan province in 1942. The Chinese government find themselves in the middle of a war with Japanese and with dwindling resources they initially decided to focus more on their militaries needs. As the war draws on the famine in the Henan province continues to be neglected. That is until a foreign journalist who had visited the province writes a story that uncovers the atrocities that are occurring in Henan province.
Content wise, this film subject matter is often grim and not an easy journey to travel. With that being said, this film’s underlying message of the injustice that befell the people of Henan province is delivered with the utmost precision.
Epic in scale, this film covers a lot ground in just under two and half hours. Outside of some very minor moments where the film’s tends to drag in the opening act, pacing proves not to be a problem. In fact there is a deliberateness to the pacing the perfectly echoes’ the growing desperation of people of Henan province.
From a visual stand point the film scores very high marks for its gritty landscapes that help drive home the bleakness of the story at hand. With the moments of warfare and carnage are gruesomely realized. It should be noted that though the special effects look very good. There are a handful of moments where they do call attention to themselves.
Without a doubt the one area in which this film’s excels the most are the performances from its entire cast. Especially Zhang Guoli (The Founding of a Republic) in the role of Fan Dianyuan, a wealthy landowner from Henan province. Who goes to hell and back trying to keep his family alive during the famine. Another performance of note is Fan Xu in the role of Hua Zhi, this film strongest female character. She gives a utterly convincing performance that is truly heartbreaking to watch. The cast also features two well known Hollywood actors Tom Robbins (Bull Durham) in the role of a priest and Adrien Brody (The Pianist) in the role of Theodore Harold White, the reporter who broke the story to the world about the famine in the Henan province.
It is hard to imagine anyone not being moved by this film. Which explores themes that are universal not matter where you come from or what language you speak. And though the subject matter may be tough for many to stomach, the end result is a deeply rewarding film who’s message resonates long after its final images have faded to end credits.
Back to 1942 comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This transfer does a very good job retaining this film’s intended desaturated visual look. There are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 in Mandarin / English, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin / English. Both audio mixes sound very good, especially the DTS-HD 5.1. The audio always sounds dynamic, dialog comes through with crystal clear clarity, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. Also included with this release are two subtitles options English and Chinese.
Extras for this release include trailer for the film and trailers for other films also available from Well Go USA. Overall Back to 1942 gets a solid audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.