As one of the oldest and most impressive man-made structures on Earth, it’s hard to believe that The Great Wall of China is still shrouded in myth and legend.
It is around this mystery that one of the year’s most visually-stunning epics, The Great Wall starring Matt Damon was created. The Great Wall begins with the fantasy of the structure being built to keep a monstrous alien species at bay… To learn if it works, you’ll have to watch the film!
To celebrate its release on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on June 12th join us as we separate the facts from the fantasy myths, with a look at the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ in more detail:
PROTECTION AGAINST INVASIONS WAS NOT THE ONLY PURPOSE OF THE WALL
Whether it be invasions from human or alien armies, it’s clear from its sheer size and length that the wall was built to keep the powerful Chinese nation safe from invasion. But what many people don’t know was that it was also used for border controls, imposing duties on transported goods, and regulation of trade and immigration.
WALL CONSTRUCTION WAS A COMMON PUNISHMENT
Transgressions ranging from homicide to tax evasion were all punishable with Wall Duty. The work was dangerous, and estimates say hundreds of thousands of workers perished during construction. In fact, to distinguish outlawed prisoners from their civilian colleagues, convicts had their heads shaved, faces blackened, and limbs bound in chains. This takes the term ‘community service’ to a whole different level…
NEW SECTIONS OF THE GREAT WALL ARE STILL BEING DISCOVERED
Previously unknown stretches of The Great Wall have been discovered as recently as 2012. In the past decade, archaeologists have located some of the northernmost sections yet to be identified, standing in and on the border of present day Mongolia. It appears that before it could be recorded, parts of the wall crumbled so much that they were generally thought to have never existed.
THE GREAT WALL IS THE LONGEST STRUCTURE BUILT BY HUMANS
Although the official number of the length of the Great Wall is 5,500 miles, estimates state that the actual length of the entire Great Wall was at one point over 13,000 miles. Even the controversial, proposed wall on the US/Mexico border would fall short of that, only reaching 1000 miles.
THE GREAT WALL IS MADE OF RICE
Although mostly built with sturdy and unremarkable building materials like earth and stone, however, glutinous rice – known colloquially as sticky rice – was incorporated into the mortar recipe due to its cohesive properties. In fact, modern studies have indicated that the amylopectin of the rice (the same substance that makes it sticky) helps to explain the wall’s strength and endurance, playing a major part in what makes it so great.
PIECES OF THE GREAT WALL WERE RECYCLED TO BUILD CIVILIAN HOMES
In what goes down as an incredible gesture of charity, between 1966 and 1976, miles of the Wall were stripped of bricks and repurposed to build civilian homes. Mao Zedong and the Red Guard believed that the Wall as little more than a relic whose materials would better serve in the development of housing, taking a particularly practical look at early recycling.
THE NOT SO GREAT WALL OF CHINA
The Chinese name for the ‘great wall’ is Chángchéng which literally means ‘Long Wall’. It is also sometimes referred to as Wànlǐ Chángchéng, which translates as ‘Long Wall of 10,000 Li’. Though the walls are quite inspiring, they were never called ‘great’ in Chinese – only by foreign visitors. It seems the Chinese are not as impressed by their wall as we are!
PORTIONS OF THE WALL COULD VANISH BEFORE 2040
Expert predictions about the Great Wall’s have grown increasingly worrying of late, as natural weathering and erosion may result in the disappearance of certain parts of the Wall before 2040.
THE GREAT WALL IS NOT VISIBLE FROM SPACE (BY THE NAKED EYE)
Despite being often repeated, the Great Wall is not visibile from space with the naked eye. The idea that it is, is credited to the English scholar William Stukeley who outlined the idea in his Family Memoirs, written in 1754. The Chinese whisper (pun intended) snowballed to the present day where more people seem to believe it than not. At best, the Wall can be spotted from a low orbit, with sunlight and weather permitting.
The Great Wall is available on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand June 12th from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Legendary Pictures.