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May 18, 2019

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A Sino-Kazakh epic of the last days of Xian Xinghai

“The Composer,” an epic movie about the last five years of famous Chinese composer Xian Xinghai, has been released nationally.

The film is also the first co-production between China and Kazakhstan as a program of cultural cooperation in the frame of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Starring Hu Jun, Yuan Quan and Kazakh actor Berik Aitzhanov, the film tells a touching story that is not widely known to the public.

Xian, who is also known as a “people’s musician” in China, wrote a few vocal works to encourage Chinese people to fight during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945). His most famous work, “Yellow River Cantata”, made its debut in Yan’an 80 years ago.

He spent his final years in Alma-Ata (today’s Almaty), Kazakhstan’s main city. In 1945, Xian, who was then severely ill, was sent to hospital in Moscow, where he died.

The film was inspired by President Xi Jinping’s speech during his visit to Kazakhstan in 2013. It is centered on Xian’s life in Alma-Ata, once an important town on the ancient Silk Road.

In the early 1940s when the Germans invaded the former Soviet Union, Xian suffered poverty and illness. He received generous help from Kazakh musician Bakhytzhan Baikadamov.

During his stay in Alma-Ata, Xian missed his homeland, but he didn’t stop writing inspiring scores to fight against fascism. Many new works were created at that time, and Kazakh folk songs were also rehashed. Classic works of the musician are also a feature of the movie.

The film also depicts a heartwarming emotional connection between Xian and a little Kazakh girl through music.

According to producer Shen Jian, they spent two years traveling many cities for interviews which provided some insight for the script. The film’s scenes were shot in China, Russia and Kazakhstan. Hu Jun, the leading actor, lost around 9 kilograms for the role.

As the first co-production project between China and Kazakhstan, the movie is expected to enhance the cooperation between the two countries in film production.


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