This film had a deep influence upon China in the 1980s, as it was beginning to come to terms with the Cultural Revolution.
Evening Rain, a feature film co-directed by Wu Yonggang and Wu Yigong, is about the years of the Cultural Revolution. Qiu Shi, a well-known poet, is wronged during that political movement. He is aboard a passenger ship bound for Chongqing from Wuhan under the guard of a young man and a young woman. In the third-class cabin, there is a village girl who has sold herself to repay her family debt, a woman teacher who speaks out from a sense of justice, an old actor who has had a full taste of suffering, an old woman who is on her way to commemorate her son killed in the violent factional struggle, and a righteous young worker. Each of them is laden with worries and sufferings. When they come to know Qiu Shi, they all show sympathy for him. Liu Wenying, the woman escort, is a simple, naive young woman. At the beginning, she thinks the persecuted poet is an out-and-out enemy. But what she hears and learns from the other passengers during the days and nights of the voyage makes her feel low, amazed, and awakened. She makes up her mind to save Qiu Shi. What makes the film unique is that although it was based on the persecution and sufferings of the people during the Cultural Revolution, it stresses the fine inner world of the ordinary people, their mutual concern and love, and their unshakable faith in the future. There was no evildoer on the screen, but the viewers could sense the sinful shadow in their own minds: the root cause of people’s sufferings. It seemed that this film aroused the people more and made them think more carefully about history than those films that directly showed the disasters caused by the Cultural Revolution. Evening Rain won the Outstanding Film Prize issued by the Ministry of Culture in 1980 and the Best Feature Film Prize at the First Golden Rooster Awards in 1981. ~
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