Power of faith and growth during wartime
The recent homegrown spy series "The Rebel" has triggered heated discussions on the streaming platform iQiyi and China's film and television review website Douban.
Since its debut last month, the series directed by Zhou You has attracted a large number of viewers for its breathtaking plot, exquisite scenes and props that take people back to the period of time more than half a century ago when China fought for its liberation.
Based on an award-winning novel by Bi Yu, the series starring Zhu Yilong and Wang Zhiwen examines the awakening and growth of former Kuomintang agent Lin Nansheng. After a series of historical events in those turbulent years, the upright and brave young man starts to understand the beliefs and pursuits of the Communists. Later, he decides to join the Communist Party of China and works as an underground Party member.
The series is an epic drama that depicts changes in society and ordinary people's lives during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945) and the War of Liberation (1945-1949).
It has a score of 8.3 out of 10 on Douban, based on the ratings of more than 200,000 viewers.
Many netizens consider it to be one of the best productions in the spy thriller genre following the success of "Lurk" and "Before Dawn." A netizen with the screenname Baliao said he was touched by the power of awakening and faith to a person living in a dark time, as well as the contributions of so many Party members to save the country.
"The light of faith will never go out," he said, adding that the efforts and sacrifice of all the revolutionaries and underground Party members deserve the respect of today's people.
Another netizen with screenname Yangyang's Apple Head noted that the true-to-life depiction of the protagonist's painful but glorious growth impressed him a lot.
"Lin, who used to work for Kuomintang, experiences the phases of doubt, exploration and determination amid fire and blood," he said. "It isn't an overnight transformation."
The series provides insight into the cruelty of war and explores the warmth and complexity of humanity. Characters in the series make different choices in the face of life and death during the critical time of war.
Details are also highlights of the series. Verses from the book "Leaves of Grass" like "the female equally with the male I sing" become lines of the protagonist to portray the young intellectual's salute to both men and women.
In the series, a film shown at a cinema is the 1936 production "Modern Times," which reflects the miserable lives of workers and the poor at that time.
Director Zhou noted the film doesn't use narration or monologue to depict the emotions and faith of the heroes. Compared with other spy dramas, "The Rebel" traverses a long period of time – 13 years – to unveil the changes of both the country and individuals.
Zhou is touched by the love between protagonist Lin and Zhu Yizhen. The couple holds strong beliefs in Communism. Although they don't spend much time together, their love doesn't fade away.