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Chinese fiction is serious

Chinese Science Fiction Claims World Leadership

Over the past 2-3 years, Chinese science fiction has made a powerful leap forward and began to quite successfully compete with Hollywood science fiction films, not inferior to them either in entertainment or in the fascination of the plot.

Chinese fiction is serious
Photo: Image Lumina Obscura from the website Pixabay

In the Celestial Empire, sci-fi for a long time was considered a teenage genre, so filmmakers, focusing mainly on the children's audience, filmed numerous television series about space rangers fighting space monsters. Another traditionally popular genre has become the fantasy genre - a fantastic fantasy about great warriors who oppose evil sorcerers and dark forces.

Today, the attitude towards science fiction has radically changed, and above all - towards the most complex kind of genre, towards science fiction - Science Fiction. There have appeared films in which, while retaining the spectacularity inherent in the SF genre, they add problematicity and sometimes an acute social orientation and relevance to the content of this cinema. This became possible due to the fact that Chinese cinema has matured, perfected its skills and received an excellent literary base - the novels and stories of the writer Liu Qixin, which showed that Chinese science fiction had fully formed and learned to seek answers to common human questions. And the release of films based on the works of the famous writer for hire has become an event in world cinema.

In 2019, the fantastic blockbuster "Wandering" or "Wandering Earth" was released. The picture turned out to be commercially profitable and deservedly entered the twenty most profitable films in the world. The success was brought to her by the high-quality basis of the script (the film was filmed based on the popular story of Liu Qixin), the large-scale work of operators and graphic specialists (in China, the tape was released in IMAX 3D format) and incredible space landscapes.


Movie poster "Wandering Planet"

According to the plot of the book and the film, in the near future the Sun, after a series of catastrophes, threatens to explode and destroy our planet. A united humanity decides to put into practice a plan to equip the Earth with engines capable of driving the planet to a safe distance. And it succeeds, but Jupiter gets in the way, having caught the Earth in its gravitational trap. The well-coordinated and friendly work of the Chinese and Russian astronauts helps to break out of the trap. Impressive science fiction for space flight lovers!

The film features a fascinating plot and great special effects. It has attracted the attention of millions of moviegoers, who are now eagerly awaiting the release of the sci-fi cycle, which is filmed by Chinese filmmakers based on Liu Qixin's novels “The Problem of Three Bodies”, “Dark Forest” and “Eternal Life of Death”. They raise acute social, philosophical and scientific problems of our time. Chinese science fiction is increasingly turning to topics around which scientists and science fiction writers argue.

Science fiction, both in literature and in cinema, is a very specific genre that allows one to model the future and new worlds by scientific and artistic means. Science fiction not only entertains, but often warns, and in this sense, Chinese science fiction writers do not so much describe a bright future as warn that new technologies can not only ensure prosperity in the future, but also destroy this future.

The future is shaping today

In 2019, the fantastic film drama "The Last Dawn" by the young director Ren Wen, which tells the story of the sudden decline of human civilization due to the predatory exploitation of energy resources, was released on the cinema screens. The action takes place in the near future, when mankind has mastered the technology of accumulating and using solar energy. Due to the unrestrained absorption of solar energy "for the good of mankind", the sun began to collapse, went out, and the Earth plunged into the darkness of eternal night.

The creators of the tape did not turn the film into a nightmarish motion picture about violence in the struggle for survival, did not want to demonstrate the horrors of degradation of maddened humanity. The film history turned out to be very calm, almost intimate. The heroes of the picture travel in eternal night across the country and conduct quiet conversations about the recent past and the near future. No anxiety, no fear of the unknown.


Poster of the film "The Last Dawn"

The only thing they regret is the inability to connect to the Internet, log into their favorite social network and chat with friends. They have long forgotten how to communicate live. The main character is only really worried about the inability to shop at TaoBao - the most popular online store in modern China.

The heroes are distinguished by indifference and indifference, as well as a naive belief that some clever person will come up with a way to return light to a world stuck in the darkness of an endless night. The authors of the film, warning about an undesirable hypothetical future, at the same time urge to start correcting the situation today. Whether they will listen to them - doubts remain on this score.

In 2018, the Chinese film "Almost a Man" was released, dedicated to the theme of creating robots and the dangers that robotics poses to humans. Today, the creation of robots and artificial intelligence has become a common hobby, from schoolchildren to solid scientists. Several decades ago, the American scientist and writer Isaac Asimov invented the so-called. "Three Laws of Robotics", which still cause fierce controversy and debate. People argue over the question, did Azimov foresee everything when he formulated his "Laws"? The answer to the question is very relevant, taking into account the fact that robotics is being carried out in all developed countries, and active research is underway to create artificial intelligence.

In these conditions, Azimov's laws acquire special importance from the point of view of ensuring human safety. Three laws of robotics state: “A robot cannot harm a person or, by its inaction, allow a person to be harmed. A robot must obey all orders given by a person, except when these orders are contrary to the first law. The robot must take care of its safety to the extent that it does not contradict the first or second laws. "

The film "Almost Human" destroys Asimov's logic with the simplest assumption from life: what will happen if a robot, like a human, gains emotionality and sensory perception of the world. Plus, what happens if the robot feels like a woman, in love but rejected? Under such conditions, the logic of the three laws easily crumbles, and the robot woman can begin to take revenge on others. Chinese science fiction film raises other paradoxical problems, including the development of the society of the future.

A future that scares

In 2018, the world premiere of the strange sci-fi film "Planet of the Beasts" by the young director Han Yan, filmed according to his own script, took place. The film is made in the genre of avant-garde futuristic film fiction, which is unusual for Chinese cinema. Chinese art house cinema is not in demand in the international film market, but this film unexpectedly broke into international distribution. Moreover, its worldwide box office grossed $ 75 million, not a bad result for the avant-garde cinema of an unknown young author.

The film even got into the Russian film distribution, which is very indicative, because in recent years Russian distributors have persistently accustomed Russians to Chinese and Hong Kong films about martial arts. The "Planet of the Beasts" has nothing to do with these tapes.

This is the story of a young man, a pitiful underdog actor, playing the role of a clown who is deceived by his best friends and who lives in a strange future ruled by multinational corporations and financial oligarchs, where emotional and intellectual poverty and neglect of national identity reign. This strange world, judging by the replicas of the heroes of the film, was formed under the influence of the ideas of building an advanced market economy.

The protagonist named Zheng Kaisi, owing a gigantic amount of money to the Credit Bank due to the betrayal of his friends and losing his mother's apartment, ends up on a mysterious ship called "Destiny" or "Destiny". On board the ship are numerous debtors of the said Bank, and the ship is commanded by the oligarch, the owner of the Bank, a certain Mr. Anderson, performed by Michael Douglas. He has a crazy look and a hooked nose, and this character is suspiciously similar to the caricature of Uncle Sam depicted by the famous Soviet satirical artists Kukryniksy.

On the ship you can meet people from all over the world, even Russians. Mr. Anderson invites everyone to play rock-paper-scissors. At stake is the cancellation of all debts, while the loser goes into the hold, to the laboratory, where they conduct genetic experiments on people.

Mr. Anderson teaches the heroes of the film: “People are driven by greed - such is human nature. To protect yourself, you have to eliminate the competitor. "

Zheng Kaisi decides to challenge the overseas Guru and, thanks to his natural ingenuity and sharp mind, leaves the Destination as a winner. During a meeting with his girlfriend, Zheng Kaisi tells her: “I finished my race. I kept my faith. Life goes on. I'm still a clown. And I'm still crazy in their eyes, but now I don't give a damn. "

The authors of the tape urge us to remember our roots, not to forget about our identity, because only this will help us to survive in the future, if alien philosophy and laws of knackery prevail in it. Any state and society is strong in its traditions and historical memory - this is the simple but completely understandable philosophy of this avant-garde film.

The young filmmaker Zhang Panpan offers us a slightly different perspective on the future. He released the most anticipated Chinese science fiction motion picture "The Three Bodies Problem", which is based on the novel of the same name by the famous science fiction writer Liu Qixin, one of the few winners of the most prestigious American science fiction lovers' award - Hugo.

Now Liu Qixin has become a world-class science fiction star. His novel "The Three Bodies Problem" was published in English and immediately took the top lines in the lists of the most read SF works. It was recommended for reading by President Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. And the Democracy Development Fund immediately included the writer's name on the list of Chinese LOMs - leaders of public opinion. Perhaps it will come in handy in the fight against the communists! Not useful.

In 2021, US congressmen lashed out at the Chinese science fiction writer for allegedly supporting the communist oppression of the Uyghurs. Congressmen even called on American filmmakers to abandon the adaptation of his works, and the company "Amazon" - from creating a high-budget television series based on the novels "The Problem of Three Bodies", "Dark Forest" and "The Eternal Life of Death", which tells about the collision of earthly and alien civilizations.

The past and the present determine the future

The aforementioned novel and film of the same name, The Three Bodies Problem, begins with scenes familiar to every Chinese, in which crowds of fanatically shouting people wave red books with quotes from Chairman Mao, as well as scenes of reprisals against the opponents of the “great helmsman” during the “Cultural Revolution”. The main character, a young astrophysicist Ye Wenjie, went through a severe stress: the hungweipings - "red guards" from among the students of Peking University - killed her father, a professor of astronomy at the same educational institution, before her eyes.

Soon after the tragic events, Ye Wenjie is invited to participate in a unique international experiment to establish contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. The experiment is successful. In parallel, an astrophysicist is working on a new wave weapon.


Poster for the film "The Problem of the Three Bodies"

Aliens report that they exist in a closed system of three suns, and due to special astrophysical conditions, their planet undergoes dehydration every 6-8 centuries, and civilization burns out in the flame of three suns. Ye Wenjie enters into dialogue with distant aliens. They beg the girl to stop contact with them and for some reason only known to them not to tell them the coordinates of the Earth and the solar system.

At the same time, leading scientists on Earth begin to disappear without a trace. Meanwhile, Ye Wenze finds the Hongwei women responsible for her father's death. Fanatical revolutionaries do not repent of their deeds at all, they say, it was such a time! Shocked, Ye Wenjie decides that such people have no right to live and commits a terrible offense. Driven by revenge, it still informs an alien civilization of the coordinates of the solar system. Forgetting humanity leads to the betrayal of humanity - this is the thought that Liu Qixin and the filmmakers are pushing us to.

Along the way, it turns out that this distant alien civilization, like locusts, migrates across the Galaxy in search of stellar systems rich in resources, then captures them, devours resources and moves on. Now the earthlings are forced to prepare to repel alien aggression, and Ye Wenjie - to correct a terrible mistake. Yes, star war will begin, and the authors will offer their visual interpretation of space battles, which will be different from the battles in the series "Star Wars" by George Lucas, which we are used to.

Another feature of the fantastic creativity of the Chinese writer and screenwriter will be clarified. Liu Qixin regularly addresses the topic of Russian-Chinese space cooperation. So in this film, a person will suddenly appear on the screen, very similar to Oleg Menshikov in the role of Colonel Lebedev from the film "Attraction" by Fyodor Bondarchuk, but already in the form of the commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces. Working together, the Russians and the Chinese will repel the invasion of the space locust and save humanity again. The first time they did it was in the film "The Wandering Earth", also based on a script by Liu Qixin.

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