Back to 1942
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A North Henan landlord embarks on a pilgrimage to Shaanxi province during the 1942 famine, struggling to survive as war with Japan looms on the horizon. His house beset by starving villagers, Landlord Fan (Zhang Guoli) endeavors to calm the crowd by preparing a feast. But his house is burned down in the chaos, prompting Fan, his teenage daughter Xing Xing (Fiona Wang), his servant Shuang Zhu (Zhang Mo), and his tenant Hua Zhi (Xu Fan) on a treacherous journey south. Along the way, encounters with an American journalist (Adrian Brody), a judge (Dan Wei), and a priest (Zhang Hanyu) who has lost… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

""Back to 1942" shows the director's mastery of chaotic spectacle, massed human motion and elegant camera movements."
‑ Mark Jenkins, Washington Post
"It catalogs agony without making you feel it."
‑ Neil Genzlinger, New York Times
"A relatively even-handed account of a famine which killed three million people, but the storytelling is so careful that it fails to build much interest or emotion."
‑ Daniel Eagan, Film Journal International
"Chinese epic illuminates a dark chapter in its WWII history"
‑ Don Groves,
"Director Feng Xiaogang captures the epic scale of the exodus as well as the often-harrowing details, yet emotional connection proves more elusive."
‑ Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times
"Shifting between individual suffering (performed, not felt) and extended political and business deliberations, the pic displays its budget but not its heart."
‑ Jay Weissberg, Variety
"Disaster movie and war movie in one dramatic realisation of a dark chapter in China's history, Back to 1942 is epic in its intentions and its scope"
‑ Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile
"A chronicle of unrelenting misery, sorrow and human degradation that has powerful moments but is hardly uplifting."
‑ Bruce Demara, Toronto Star
"There is surprisingly little emotional resonance with the well-drawn and acted characters, making it a tiring two and a half hour trek for filmgoers who don't have a stake in the history it recounts."
‑ Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
"The resulting, highly uneven film excels at dramatic set pieces, but stumbles in the sections that link them together."
‑ James Spillane, Slant Magazine
More reviews for Back to 1942 on Rotten Tomatoes