The 800

Nicholas Quirke was trying to take things slowly as he had a busy time ahead of him on 22 August 2020. A leisurely morning, with a breakfast of Jian Bing and date milk, and some light cleaning occupied his time till they left to go to the cinema, which was an hour and half train ride away. He was used to travelling long distances to go to the theatre but a journey of this length for a movie seemed a little extreme. The cinema was in mall that they had been to when they had seen Peking Man. Fengshan, or Fun Hill as it had been translated throughout ten district. He still found it very odd, that for a country whose inhabitants mostly could not speak English, It seemed extraordinary that English names where everywhere. The cinema was an IMAX cinema with a laser screen and was famed for the clarity of the pictures and as the film, ‘The 800’, a retelling of a famous Chinese Siege and battle in Shanghai during the Sino Japanese war in 1937, was an epic movie and it definitely deserved to be seen in perfect conditions. The story of the siege in a warehouse, of the bravery of the 800 soldiers, gave him a new perspective on another aspect of China’s history of occupation and foreign dominance. And the callous watching, by the western observers from the opposite side of the river in ‘The Concession’ a hot pot of depravity and indolence, of the slow and painful annihilation of the Chinese Battalion, left behind by the retreating NRA, making a stand for China’s freedom, was a moving and courageous. There was no doubt that this was a positive image of the Chinese people and designed to inflame nationalistic pride, but it grabbed his attention and took him on an emotional roller coaster as well as educate him. The journey, the film and the return to central Beijing took up most of the day and returning late meant it was time to order another take out. On the way home they stopped at a famous bakery to get some osmanthus and sesame Gao, which they ate as desert with their Vege Tiger dinner. Nicholas finally got to have a chat with his sister Kate and catch up an all the news from England, which seemed to have faded completely from his consciousness, so tied up was he with life in China. Of course, even though they hand sat through 2+ hours of a war epic they still completed the evening with a South African horror movie The Soul Collector and then bed.


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