The Russian Army in Manchuria (1904)
A grand and unique series of pictures photographed by Mr. George Rogers. Mr. George Rogers, the war correspondent of the Charles Urban Trading Co. is an American. He has made his application from Paris. Here he waited three months before a permit to go to Russia was granted. After waiting three weeks in St. Petersburg, he was allowed to proceed as far as Irkutsk. At this town, he was turned out of the train, on the ground that transport was needed for the military for war stores. So Mr. Rogers bought a sledge and three ponies, and fortunately falling in with a troop of cossacks arrived, after seventeen days travelling, at Harbin where he was by the end of April. Order of the scenes: I. Arrival of General Kuropatkin, received by Generals Rennankamph and Grekoff. — II. Troop of cossacks starting the march across Lake Baikal. — III. Russian infantry crossing Lake Baikal. — IV. Transport of Army provisions across Lake Baikal. (From IMDB)
The Roar of the Dragon (1932) [I saw this on TV in Spring of 2011]
A boatload of Westerners is trapped in Manchuria as bandits led by Russian renegade Voronsky ravage the area. Seeking refuge in a fortified inn, the group is led by the boat’s Captain Carson, who becomes involved with a woman who “belongs” to Voronsky. Carson must contend with the bandits outside and the conflicting personalities of those trapped inside the inn, as well as dealing with spies among the inn’s personnel. (From IMDB)
The Silk Express (1933)
From the late 1880’s to 1937, many ships from China and Japan carried valuable cargoes of silk. Raw silk was worth $18 dollars a pound in 1920. The Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Iyo Maru ocean liner would have had silk rooms to bring in cargo undamaged by the elements. Seattle was advertising itself as the Silk Port of America, and offered speedy “Silk” trains to the eastern mills. The mystery movie, The Silk Express (1933), took place at the height of this time.
7 Women (1966)
Legendary director John Ford’s final film involving seven dedicated missionary women in China circa 1935 trying to protect themselves from the advances of a Mongolian barbaric warlord and his cut-throat gang of warriors. In a mission in China in 1935, Agatha Andrews is a rigid missionary beset by Mongolian bandits led by Warlord chief Tunga Khan. With her are her assistant Jane Argent, staff members Emma Clark, Miss Russell and Miss Binns, head of the British mission, Charles Pather, a teacher at the mission and his pregnant wife Florrie. When Dr. D.R. Cartwright arrives, she agrees to sacrifice herself to the Tunga Khan in exchange for his letting the ladies go free. (From IMDB)
The Last Princess of Manchuria/Chuan Dao Fang Zi (1992)
The tale is about the last crowned Princess of Manchuria. She lived a sad and depressing life that was controlled by others. As a child she was sent to live in Japan. Whilst there she adopted a Japanese name and was basically a pawn throughout her entire life. Anita Mui stars as the “Last Princess of Manchuria”. She gave a depth to this complex character that a few actresses could have pulled off. Andy Lau (who acted his tail off) co-stars as the Chinese nationalist who’s life is caught up with the Princess turned Japanese agent in war torn China circa. 1930’s. (IMDB Reviewer)
Urga (Close to Eden) (1991)
The shepherd Gombo lives with his wife, three children and grandmother in a tent on the Mongolian steppe. They are pleased with their rustic conditions, until a Russian truck driver, Serguei, gets stuck with his truck nearby. The cultural gap between Gombo and Serguie seems invincible. But maybe they can learn a few things from each other?
Gombo is a simple man who lives in the vast grassy fields of China with his wife, two children, and mother. The most interesting aspect of the film is the dragonfly Gombo and his son play with. The son is soon distracted by his mother, a city-girl, squeaking a little toy doll. He runs off and plays with his doll. Later in the film, the boy catches a dragonfly himself and amazes his mother and sister with the awesomeness of nature’s toys.
The song, “The Hills of Manchuria” (На сопках Манчьжурии), so prominently sung by the main character in Mikhalkov’s Urga (Close to Eden), refers to the Battle of Mukden (Manchuria). This was the final land battle of the Russo-Japanese War and took place in February-early March, 1905. Casualties were exceptionally heavy (the Russians lost 89,000 out of 330,000, and the Japanese, 71,000 out of 270,000 men). As the Russian tradition would have it, the battle was lost due largely to the poor generalship of the Russian Commander, A.N. Kuropatkin, who decided to retreat, which soon led to rout of the Russian army by the Japanese.
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