New series puts focus on war correspondents

New series puts focus on war correspondents
Pop star Han Xue (right) plays the lead role in the TV series The Waves. [Photo provided to China Daily]

While most of China's revolutionary period TV productions prefer to feature political leaders or historical battles, a new series, The Waves, focuses on war correspondents.

Two episodes of the 44-episode drama are being screened every night as the country marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Set in the turbulent 1935-1945 period, the series, which premiered on Oct 16 on Beijing Satellite TV, chronicles the lives and careers of four patriotic college students, who become war correspondents to fight the Japanese invaders using pens and cameras.

The story is set against a backdrop featuring a slew of historical battles and milestone mass campaigns.

While the main protagonists are fictional characters, more than 180 big names in modern Chinese history feature in the series. They include the Communist Party's then military leaders Peng Dehuai, Nie Rongzhen and Deng Xiaoping, Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek and Canadian doctor Norman Bethune.

For the director and scriptwriter Su Zhou, the most interesting part of the series is the focus on ordinary civilians during the harsh times.

"The war correspondents are not military men, but they are among those who get the closest to the killing and the death every day on the battlefields," Su said at a media event on Oct 13.

"During wartime, an inspiring article or a close-up photo can sometimes be more powerful than guns and bullets," he said.

"There were many famed war journalists and influential reports during the wars. They were also war heroes and deserve a screen production to portray their courage and sacrifice."

Su has won many top television awards in his 20-year career, such as the Flying Goddess Award and Golden Eagle Award.

The scriptwriter team included author Wang Haiping, who has won best screenwriter prizes at Britain's China Image Film Festival and the Chinese American Film Festival.

Pop stars Yin Xiaotian, Zhang Bo and Han Xue play leading roles in the series, in a bid to attract younger viewers, said Su.

Han, raised in a military family, said that acting in the first revolutionary series of her career made her feel like she was "going back to the years when my grandfather strived and struggled".

Mainly produced by Beijing Satellite TV, the series cost 80 million yuan ($13 million) and took two years to shoot in the former revolutionary base of Linyi, in Shandong province.

The crew had to create replicas of a number of landmark structures dating back to the 1930s and the 1940s to give the series an authentic look.

To shoot a three-minute scene, the special effects team had to make 400 stone lions featuring different expressions and install them on a replica of the Lugou Bridge, or Marco Polo Bridge.

The famed battle on the bridge on July 7, 1937 marked the start of the Chinese people's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).