Monday, May 19, 2008

More From China

Sorry, folks, but this'll be another posting having little to do with film-making. Truth is, a couple of folks (therefore 100% of our readership) told me they appreciated the "front lines" post earlier in the week from China.

As the result, this is a bit of a follow-up.

Today was the first day of a 3-day period of national mourning. At 2:28 there was a 3 minute period of silence.

People from the various companies gathered outside. Some were "formed up" military style by their companies. Others just stopped dead on the street. All traffic halted. All pedestrians came to a screeching halt. Amazing to see - like something out of a movie - because its such a massive city and so busy. Just... thousands of people and cars stopped dead in their tracks.

You know when you see movies and some crazy apocalyptic thing happens and they show zillions of New Yorkers all frozen in place and its this weird, freaky looking notion, because New York just NEVER stops? Beijing's like that. And that's exactly what this looked like.

After a beat, the sound started. Air raid sirens from all over the city... this buzzing drone. After a moment they were joined as every car within the city started blowing its horn. It was just this 3 minute long deafening buzz unlike anything I've ever heard before, and which is almost impossible to describe. It came from everywhere and was almost like a tv or radio station test signal sound. All around people were staring at the ground or looking to the sky. Many were crying.

I wanted to take pictures, to try to capture what it was like, but I couldn't think of a way to do so and be respectful. Its moments of massive national unity like that when you feel especially foreign.