Director Chen Kaige's blockbuster film The Promise has
certainly grabbed headlines.
First, it was the most expensive domestic film made. with an
investment of 340 million yuan (US$42.5 million).
Then it was the subject of a popular parody.
Now it's about how the movie company treated the environment at
a location where it built a set and filmed.
"The shooting of The Promise has destroyed the natural
sights of Bigu Tianchi in Yunnan Province's Shangrila," Qiu
Baoxing, vice-minister of construction, said on Tuesday at a forum
in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.
A reinforced concrete structure was left on the shore of the
lake, and more than 100 spiles were left in the water, said Qiu,
citing media reports. Moreover, canteens, raincoats, bottles and
plastic bags could be seen all around.
The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), the
nation's top watchdog, has instructed the provincial environmental
protection bureau to investigate the issue, Zhu Xingxiang, a SEPA
official, said yesterday.
He said that SEPA had not received a letter of complaint about
the movie company's environmental destruction.
The location involved is at Bigu Tianchi, a mountainous lake at
an altitude of 4,000 metres in picturesque Shangrila County.
Some reports indicated the ecosystem around the lake had also
been destroyed. A China Central Television report dealt with both
sides of that issue late last month.
Qiu's remark was the first official criticism regarding the
deterioration of the lake's environment.
Chen Hong, the movie's producer and Chen Kaige's wife, told
People's Daily that materials had been left behind for auction to
help pay for the clean-up. However, the Chongqing Commercial News
reported Chen as saying that the company had given money to the
local government to deal with the aftermath.
No confirmation of any money given to a local government could
be made yesterday, but Li Jufang, an official of the Diqing Tibet
Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, said clean-up work had begun.
The concrete structure on the lakeshore has been mostly
dismantled, said Li, who insisted that the work affected the
surrounding environment only slightly.
Last August, the movie company sent a letter entrusting disposal
of the material left on site to the prefecture government, Li
The prefecture government then told the Shangrila county
government to auction the materials left behind to help pay for the
clean-up, the official said.
"A lesson learnt from the issue is that we will demand that
whoever shoots a movie here in the future is committed to
protecting the environment," Li said.
An online survey by the website Sina.com indicated that 95 per
cent of the respondents thought the shooting of the movie destroyed
the environment and more than 80 per cent suggested that
authorities adopt regulations to avoid a repetition of similar
Lu Xinyuan, another SEPA official, said such regulations would
be drafted in the future. Further spot investigations need to be
conducted on whether to ban or to restrict the shooting of movies
at sites with beautiful scenery in the future.
(China Daily May 11, 2006)