Acting and Chinese History

Acting and Chinese History

Chinese History in Chinese TV

This blog covers some the things I learned about Chinese history through filming in China, and particularly about some of the foreigners who helped shape history there.

Wi Lian De

HistoryPosted by Ben Thompson Fri, April 12, 2013 06:15:18
In 2010 I worked on 16 projects. I think they were all TV shows. One of the most interesting historically was a play about the outbreak of bubonic plague in Harbin in 1911. A Chinese Malaysian called Wu Lian De (伍连德) was appointed by the court to deal with this plague. He discovered that unlike the Black Death the plague in Harbin was transmitted via people's airways and not via rats.

The play adds a lot of fancy details about Japanese and Russian conspiracies which reflects the territorial tensions that were working themselves out in that part of China at the time. Harbin has always had a strong Russian presence, even now there are lots of Russian souvenir shops and good vodka is easy to find.

It was a pretty stressful shoot because a lot of it was shot in Harbin and some of it even further north, almost as far as the Russian border in Mudanjiang.

I play an imaginary character, the father of a Russian doctor. In this clip my daughter (the doctor) has discovered she has caught the plague and has voluntarily entered the isolation zone.