As the controversy in the Chinese press over the "Red Dawn" remake makes headlines, another upcoming film is facing a similar concern over its potential to spark sinophobic sentiment.
That film? The upcoming $25 million film adaptation of John Marsden's 1993 novel "Tomorrow When the War Began". The first in a seven book series set in an Australia which finds itself invaded and occupied by a foreign power, the story follows a small band of teenagers who wage a guerrilla war on the enemy garrison in their fictional country town.
Neither the country or ethnicity of the invading force is ever mentioned in the books, a deliberate choice by Marsden who said in a discussion on the panel show "Q&A" late last year that "I don't want people to use the books to justify some kind of racist belief they might hold."
The film adaptation however cannot be so anonymous, Marsden adding that "they [the producers] are going to give the invaders a definite ethnic identity, that's their choice and I have no input to that."
Stuart Beattie, the writer/director of the upcoming film adaptation, told Encore Magazine this week that no countries will be specified in the film, but the ethnicity of the invaders will be a logical choice.
“If I named a country, it wouldn’t be that book; it would be something else entirely. What the book and the movie are about is these eight teenagers and what happens to them when their country is invaded, not who’s doing it or why. The ethnicity just makes common sense. If anyone is going to invade Australia, it’s not going to be Europe, and it’s not going to be Africa. It won’t be Antarctica or New Zealand. It’s going to be someone in Asia. It’s the logical thing. It’s common sense enough for an audience to say ‘ok, that’s who it would be’” he explained.
Beattie "doesn't anticipate" controversy over the film, but "if people want to talk about it, they can. That’s what it’s for." Beattie is currently putting the finishing touches on the film which is due for delivery at the end of the month ahead of its September 2nd Australian release.
Beattie also adds that should the film prove as big a success as they hope, the plan is to do a trilogy and they'd probably shoot the next two back-to-back due to the age of the young cast members and the financial savings.