Culture\Film and TV

Depiction of Chinese Schindler falls short

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-09 07:34

Depiction of Chinese Schindler falls short

The Chinese TV drama The Last Visa, starring Chen Baoguo, is inspired by the late Chinese diplomat Ho Feng Shan's heroic deeds during World War II. Ho (above left) served as the Chinese consul general in Vienna between 1938 and 1940. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The first TV portrayal of the story of a Chinese diplomat, who risked his career to save thousands of Jews from the Nazis, attempts to shed light on a little-known piece of history but may have missed the mark, Raymond Zhou reports.

A new television drama based on the true story of a Chinese diplomat who saved thousands of Jews during World War II is the first attempt to publicize this little-known piece of history, but it has drawn mixed reviews from both critics and regular viewers, and from those with intimate knowledge of the historical events.

The Last Visa, a 46-episode series that began airing on New Year's Day on the satellite stations of Beijing and Jiangsu, got its inspiration from the story of Ho Feng Shan (1901-97), who was posthumously awarded the title of "Righteous among the Nations" for his "humanitarian courage" by the Israeli government in 2000.

The TV drama does not use Ho's name and even splits Ho into two characters.

A forum organized in January by one of the production companies, Jiangsu Broadcast and Television Station, which screenwriter Gao Mantang also participated in, was a laudatory fest for the heavily promoted show.

Pu Yu, president of the station, says that despite numerous screen stories about World War II in China and other countries, this one can shape China's image abroad and let the world know what Chinese did during that time.

Asked for her reaction to the series, Ho Manli, the daughter of Ho Feng Shan, responded via WeChat from San Francisco.

"I realize that dramatic license is often taken in fictionalizing historical events. However, since this drama is being heavily advertised as based on true events, there is some expectation and responsibility to at least get the historical context right."

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