Representations of History in Chinese Film and Television

Scenes 1 to 10
Scenes 11 to 20
Scenes 21 to 28

Scenes 21 to 28

Scene 21: The fisherman and Deng Shichang in front of the Zhiyuan

The fisherman has organized his fellow villagers to contribute food to the navy’s endeavor. Baskets full of fish are provided and the fisherman reveals an encouraging wooden tableau to Deng, dedicated by the people of Weihaiwei, with four characters on it admonishing the warships to protect the country and the people. Deng is deeply moved and promises to head the people’s wish.

Scene 22: In a telegraph office

In a telegraph office run by Westerners, Mr. Roper receives a secret telegram stating that Japanese ships are going to provoke the Chinese.

Scene 23: On deck of a Chinese warship

Admiral Ding and Liu Buchan are on deck of a warship when they are informed that there is smoke ahead. When they have a closer look, Ding thinks it could be the Japanese fleet but Liu Buchan thinks it is not. Ding is nevertheless preoccupied and calls all his commanders.
Liu insists the fleet steering towards them is American. But Deng Shichang suspects that there might be something wrong since he knows that the Americans do not have so many ships in the Far East. Fang adds there is an American flag waving from its mast, but Deng seems to sense that this is a trick of the Japanese. And indeed, all in a sudden, the ships change their flag and put on the Japanese one. The Japanese admiral is very proud of his having tricked the Chinese. Deng Shichang, on the other hand, immediately recognizes the ship in front of the foreign fleet as the Yoshino.

Scene 24: In the admiral’s cabin

Ding Ruchang agrees with Deng Shichang that they first target the Yoshino. Liu Buchan tries to argue that Li Hongzhang would not appreciate their getting involved in fighting with the Japanese, but Ding insists on its being impossible to evade a confrontation. Liu slyly moves on to argue for staying behind with his ship, thus “guaranteeing for admiral Ding’s safety”, but the latter declares decidedly that his personal safety is not of primary concern.

Scene 25: Liu Buchan and Ding Ruchang on deck

Ding Ruchang orders the fleet to get prepared for fighting, but Liu deliberately changes his orders, giving wrong signals to the other Chinese warships. The Japanese are astonished by the strange Chinese formation resulting from this signaling, but use the chance to attack. Ding Ruchang is hit by a bullet and has to give up the command.

Scene 26: Deng Shichang on the Zhiyuan

Thereupon, Deng Shichang and his Zhiyuan take over the function of leading the Chinese fleet. But Fang Boqian is defying his orders and leaves the Zhiyuan alone. Only commander Lin tries to stay close.

Scene 27: In the helmsman’s room on Fang Boqian’s warship

Fang Boqian, obviously afraid, runs down into the helmsman’s room. He wants to flee with his ship, but the helmsman refuses to. Fang thereupon shoots him. Immediately other marines come down into the helmsman’s room and discover their nearly dead comrade who is still able to tell them in a very week voice that Fang wants to run away. The marines are furious about Fang who now for the second time had unmasked himself a traitor, and they kill him.

Scene 28: On deck of the Zhiyuan

Wang Guocheng orders firing and the canons hit. The Japanese admiral is in predicament but decides to take on commander Lin’s ship which is fired at and hit. Thus, the closest of Deng’s friends is eliminated. Deng wants to take on the Yoshino. His ship is hit and fire is everywhere, but the crew combats the fire energetically. Wang Guocheng continues to fire and even destroys the mast behind the Japanese admiral. The Yoshino thus decides to flee, but Deng wants to chase it.
But as they continue to fire, they have to realize that their ammunition is exhausted. Deng goes over to Wang Guocheng asking why he is not firing anymore. Wang Guocheng shows him the empty ammunition magazine with tears in his eyes.
(The music starts to become tragic.) When the Japanese admiral realizes Deng has run out of ammunition, the Yoshino turns around again and drives closer to the Zhiyuan. The Japanese admiral orders not to shoot at the Zhiyuan, because he wants the Chinese all alive.
Meanwhile, on the Zhiyuan, Deng orders his marines to ram the Yoshino, because this is the last contribution to the war against the Japanese they can provide. He signals “no surrender” to the Japanese and drives full speed. The Japanese now take up firing again and in the helmsman’s room of Deng’s warship the wooden tableau of the people of Weihaiwei [symbolically] falls down. Deng himself steers the Zhiyuan which is already too close for the Japanese to fire at with their cannons. As a gesture of utmost decision, he throws his Manchu queue around his neck, fixing his eyes on the Yoshino. (Heroic music). The Japanese marines, realizing the danger, jump into the sea, whereas the Chinese marines stand courageously next to each other on deck, awaiting certain death. The Japanese admiral declines to jump into the sea and gives order to flee and attack the Zhiyuan via torpedos. Deng is able to avoid the first two torpedos, but the third one hits the Zhiyuan which explodes immediately. The final shot shows Deng’s face amidst the waves.

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© 2007 Gotelind Müller-Saini