Zhang Yimou's new vehicle to export Chinese culture

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, November 17, 2016


Legendary film director Zhang Yimou unveiled the mysteries of five armies in his new film "The Great Wall" in Beijing on Tuesday, believing he has found a new approach to export Chinese culture to the world audiences.

"I just flew back from Los Angeles where I finished post-production work of the film," Zhang said, when he attended a press conference in Beijing with four of the stars, Jing Tian, Lu Han, Lin Gengxin and Huang Xuan. "The reason I made 'The Great Wall' was out of the hope to use an international blockbuster as a vehicle to share Chinese culture and value with the world. This is an alternative way for Chinese film to go beyond our borders."

The film is the first big production from Zhang in years and his first English-speaking film. The film originally came from Legendary CEO Thomas Tull, who conceived the idea with "World War Z" writer Max Brooks. Though the script and story were produced by an outsider, Zhang managed to insert his own thoughts and Chinese elements into the film once he took over the project.

Zhang Yimou poses with four actors Jing Tian, Lu Han, Lin Gengxin and Huang Xuan and film executives at a press conference to promote his new film "The Great Wall" in Beijing on Nov. 15, 2016. [Photo provided to China.org.cn]

The new model to make Chinese-American co-productions may set a new standard, as previously many of this genres just added several Chinese scenes or Chinese actors, which displeased Chinese audiences. Meanwhile foreign audiences do not seem ready to flock to see purely Chinese films due to a cultural gap and many other reasons.

The film, which stars Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, and Andy Lau, is the most expensive film production in Chinese history, with an estimated budget of around US$135 million. It tells the story of an ancient Chinese folk tale in Song Dynasty surrounding the building of the world famous landmark, the Great Wall, and the horde of monsters that crept up on the wall at intervals of 60 years and the armies based there to repulse them.

The monster is identified as the Taotie, a beast of great greed from ancient Chinese mythology. Zhang also designed a plot for European mercenary soldiers to steal gunpowder technology from China, but only to discover they are caught up in a war to save the entire human race.

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