Film review: Children of the Silk Road

Last updated 14:27 07/11/2008

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You have to wonder at the nerve of this film's distributors - trying to flog this blatant rewrite of history to us Kiwis.

Based, more loosely than it should have been, on the true story of the British journalist George Hogg, this film purports to cover the years of Hogg's life reporting from World War II-racked China.

Hogg's most famous exploit was his part in the rescue of 60 children from the Huang Shi orphanage, and their subsequent long march in the face of the Japanese invaders.

Only trouble is, according to Children of the Silk Road, Hogg cooked up and executed this plan himself, helped only by an Australian nurse.

As any self-respecting New Zealander knows, the real hero of the Huang Shi, and the man whom history credits as being the leader of the rescue, was Canterbury's own Rewi Alley.

The nurse was another New Zealander, Kathleen Hall. So ignoring this almighty and inexplicable snub of some truly heroic New Zealanders' involvement in this film's 'true story', what is there left to enjoy?

Well, the performances - especially David Wenham in a literally short-lived cameo, and Chow Yun-Fat as Hogg's communist saviour - are good work.

And the cinematography of Xiaoding Zhao - who also shot House of the Flying Daggers - is superb.

For Kiwis, I expect that this film's gratuitous inaccuracies will be a bridge too far.

Children of the Silk Road
Director: Roger Spottiswood
Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Radha Mitchell, Chow Yun-Fat
Rating: M
Time: 125 minutes

* What did you think of Children of the Silk Road? Post your comments below.

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