New TV drama 'White Deer Plain' debuts

Updated 2017-04-14 14:00:46

A still from TV drama "White Deer Plain".

A new TV drama of Chinese literature classic "White Deer Plain" premiered 90 minutes of footage in Beijing on Thursday and will start to air on two TV networks and a video website.

Students of Tsinghua University are the first ones in China to view the real deal of "White Deer Plain" - a specially made footage of carefully selected scenes from the TV drama. After the screening in the university's music hall, the students responded with loud applause.

The epic TV drama took nearly 17 years to prepare and produce with a budget of 230 million yuan (U.S..39 million). The creators, cast and crew even went to China's rural areas to experience rural life for a month before cameras started rolling, so that they could have a better understanding of the story's background and give the best performances.

"This is a very magical production, and everyone involved gives their all," director Liu Jin said at the premiere in Tsinghua University. The TV drama stars veteran Chinese actors such as Zhang Jiayi, He Bing, Qin Hailu and Liu Peiqi. For them, the cast members agreed, the TV drama is not just about China's rural life, but also an historic epic.

The book itself, written by late Chen Zhongshi who died last year, follows the hardships and spiritual pursuits of several generations living on the White Deer Plain in Shaanxi. It also mirrors the changes which have taken place in the Chinese countryside over the first half of the 20th century. Critics described his work as a "realistic reflection of Chinese contemporary history," and that there are too many roles and plots intertwined in the novel. It is described as "the most difficult novel to be made into a film."

The original novel was published in 1993, sold 1.6 million copies and took China's highest literature award, Mao Dun Literature Prize, in 1997. "White Deer Plain" also had its life in other art forms, including Shaanxi Opera, stage play, dance drama, comic strips and sculptures.

Before the TV drama, film director Wang Quan'an made a 160-minute epic feature film based on the novel in 2011, starring Zhang Yuqi and Zhang Fengyi, but it received mixed reviews. Another film, adapted by the novelist's friend, script writer Lu Wei, is in the process of preparation and filming will start at the end of 2017 with a budget of 200 million yuan (US million).

The new 85-episode TV drama will start airing at prime time on Anhui TV, Jiangsu TV and from April 16.

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