Saturday, August 09, 2008

Zhang Yimou

Filipo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

I think we can all agree that the Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing were pretty fantastic. The artistic direction was done by Zhang Yimou, famed director of films such as House of Flying Daggers, Hero, and Raise the Red Lantern. Gong Li, whom I idolize as the most beautiful Chinese woman ever, was his longtime muse and amour.

When at the West Lake in China last summer, I got to see a production by Zhang Yimou on the lake. Not sure how they did it, but it was also quite fantastic, though on a much smaller scale. Here are a few (blurry) visuals. They retell well known Chinese tales, perhaps we would call them legends or fairytales, that center around the beautiful lake.

Dancers on the lake wave enormous feathers in unison.

Here the story of the White Snake and her husband are told on a floating pagoda.

Dancers perform the story of the Butterfly Lovers under a watery canopy. It's a story of star crossed love, but with a very slightly happier ending than Romeo and Juliet (the lovers meet as butterflies over their graves).


Anonymous said...

Those look gorgeous - the one with the feathers makes me think of Swan Lake; is there a similar story or is it just a coincidence? (Actually, the story changes depending on what country it's performed in, so I suppose I should say "stories"). The first Zhang Yimou movie I ever saw was "Raise The Red Lantern" when I was in my early teens; brilliant and terrifying. In college I got every other movie of his that I could find out of the AV library and became one of those bores who kept telling my friends "You have to watch this! This is so good!" I think if I had to pick one favourite it would be "To Live", but I can't watch it that often; right now, for instance, probably wouldn't be optimal :).

- Marian

Marianevans said...

I didn't know you were a Zhang Yimou fan! "Raise the Red Lantern" left me totally disturbed - especially that scene that keeps going during the credits...brrrr. I haven't seen "To Live" yet. I think most Chinese movies tend toward the ultra heart-wrenching, while Taiwanese and Hong Kong films involve more humor and light.

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