The Wandering Earth: Rich, Gorgeous, and Goofy?

The cover of The wandering Earth. By Susan Ma.
Source: China Film Group Corporation

During the Spring Festival holiday, one movie triggered a rush. With more than 2.2 billion yuan at the box office, The Wandering Earth became the top-grossing film of the Spring Festival. On February 5, 2019 (Chinese New Year’s Day), The Wandering Earth was released in theaters by China Film Group Corporation, and then on February 8, 2019, it was released in North America and Australia. This is a Chinese science fiction film directed by Frant Gwo and based on the novel of the same name by Locus Award and Hugo Award-winning author Liu Cixin. It stars Wu Jing, Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai, and Qu Jingjing.

The film is set in 2075. In recent years, scientists have discovered that the sun is rapidly aging and expanding, and in a short time the entire solar system, including the Earth, will be engulfed by the sun. In order to survive, human beings propose a bold plan called “Wandering Earth,” which is the global effort to build tens of thousands of engines on the Earth’s surface and prompt the Earth to leave the solar system with 2500 years to another habitat. This project will take five steps.

The first step is to fix the direction of the engine in the opposite direction of the earth so that the Earth will stop rotating. Second, run the Earth engine at full power to speed the Earth out of the solar system. Third, let the engine continue to accelerate in outer space toward Proxima Centauri. The fourth step is to rotate the Earth halfway. In the fifth step, the Earth enters Proxima Centauri orbit and becomes a satellite of the star.

Source: China Film Group Corporation

In the beginning, Liu Peiqiang, a Chinese astronaut, promises to his son Liu Qi of his eventual return before his mission to a space station that will help Earth navigate as it moves out of the Solar system. Seventeen years later, Liu’s mission is about to end and he will soon return to Earth. However, the Earth has not yet flown out of the solar system, passing by Jupiter’s gravitational attraction and gradually closing in to hit Jupiter.

When humans first get such a close look at Jupiter, it looks like death. However, they go through many twists and turns. In space, Liu discovers that MOSS, the artificial intelligence commanding the space station, is meant to make the station escape, not help humans on Earth. He breaks his enforced hibernation and tries to stop the station with Russian cosmonaut Makarov.

Finally, Liu decides to ignite Jupiter’s hydrogen gas with the station’s engines. After igniting moss with vodka smuggled aboard by Makarov, he puts the flame out, pilots the spacecraft into the clouds between Jupiter and Earth, and sacrifices himself. Earth, saved from destruction, continues to move toward the target star system.

At the end of the film, Mr. Liu writes in a hopeful tone about the various stages of the Earth’s migration, a process that took 2,500 years and is still fraught with uncertainty. In the process of the race against time, countless people have fallen in and out, regardless of personal danger, only to continue the hope of the survival of a hundred generations of descendants.

Source: China Film Group Corporation

In the world of this movie, we can see many familiar Chinese elements. Not only do we see underground Beijing and frozen Shanghai, but the understanding of the relationship between “wandering” and “going home” is full of Chinese yearning for home and attachment to native land. Facing the crisis, human beings actually take the Earth as their home to go far away together. That may be why many people are more excited about the world when such a film opens up. We look forward to seeing more Chinese values and Eastern ideals spread across the boundaries of the human imagination and addressing the eternal grilling of humanity in more extreme and extraordinary circumstances.


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