A survivor of one of WWII’s most brutal bombing campaigns, which has now been made into made into a film with Bruce Willis, has expressed how real the on-screen events are.
The WWII action film, The Bombing (or Air Strike as it’s known in America) tells the story of a little-known moment of WWII history in 1939 in Chongqing in China.
Over two days 12,000 people, mostly civilians died in a series of brutal bombings by the Japanese.
Until recently, this event in World War II has only been mentioned briefly, but now the film Air Strike is bringing this moment in history back into the light.
Mr Huang Shih Chung was living in the city as a child at the time of the horrendous bombing in May 1939. He says the on-screen drama is true to life: “The film stays true to real events, I was really frightened because the Japanese planes were shooting at people fleeing. Many died, especially on bridges because there was nowhere to go.”
Director Xiang Feng has tried to stay true to the facts and use original props where possible, such as original bomb casings and furniture on sets.
The story of the film, of which Mel Gibson was a consultant, spans four years between 1938 and 1941, starting three years before Nazi Germany’s bombing of London, and four years before Pearl Harbour.
It centres around three different groups of people, some trying to find their way to Chongqing and others already there, all trying to dodge the Japanese air attacks. It shows the unbreakable spirit of the Chinese soldiers in their quest to protect their country, whilst being completely outnumbered by the Japanese imperial army in a relentless attack spanning years.
During the four years, Japanese warplanes carried out more than 200 separate bombing raids on Chongqing, killing nearly 12,000 people, most of them civilians.
Oxford historian and author Rana Mitter has studied the Chongqing bombings and says the film is a beautiful reminder of a moment in history we should never forget: “The important thing about Chongqing is that this was the first of the big terror raids that became common in World War II, they had to bear bombings with no real air defences.”
The Americans help was enlisted by the Chinese in a bid to help them defeat the Japanese, as their knowledge of combat in the air was better. This forged a great relationship between the two countries, which is still apparent today.
Eventually the bombing ceased and the Chongqing slowly started to rebuild its self. Recently 40 Chinese who were wounded or lost family during the bombings brought a law suit against the Japanese government asking for an apology, which they didn’t receive. Huang reflect: “I hope the world doesn’t forget how many lives we sacrificed. It’s a lesson that if you invade others, you will lose.”
For more info on the film and the backstory behind it, or for quotes from the producer contact, Hayley Woodward
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