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Look out for more coverage of
Curse of the Golden Flower in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Curse of the Golden Flower

Chow Yun Fat • Gong Li
DIRECTOR: Zhang Yimou

In the Forbidden City THE CONCEPT:
Set in the later Tang dynasty (923-936 AD), the movie focuses on a dysfunctional imperial family on the eve of the Chong Yang Festival, where golden flowers fill the palace. But amid the grandeur of the festival, ugly secrets are revealed and before the night is over thousands will be killed.

U.S. RELEASE: December 21 2006, Limited • Rated: tba


“When I was starting to cast, I thought about who should be the emperor and empress in the film and it was really quite clear. There were two people who were really suitable for these roles, Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li, who without question are two of the greatest contemporary Chinese actors working today. They both have incredible power and very strong acting abilities, and I couldn’t think of anyone else I would rather have do these roles than them.”

“For me the process was kind of like being in a bullfight where they stick the bull and keep taunting and exciting it until he’s in a frenzy and he’s ready to fight. For me it was like that every day. The director, of course, was the bullfighter and I was the bull. I’d get really charged up to perform in the play, and then after we’d finish it I’d get off work and go home to have a nice sleep, and the next day get up and start the whole process again.”

“I think the major difference between this film and Hero or House of Flying Daggers is that they are in the tradition of martial arts films. This film is quite different because it’s more of an amalgamation of a melodrama and an action film, and that’s something I very consciously wanted to do. The plot, the story, the characterization, all of this comes from the original play, Thunderstorm. And with that I was given a wonderful foundation upon which to build on, but then taking it and setting it during the Tang Dynasty, with all of this splendid opulent set design, I really was able to take it somewhere much further. “

“The whole process every day of getting ready, including hair, makeup and costume, took about three hours. By the time I got to the hair stage I finally began to feel like an empress, and the bullfight was ready to begin. By the time we got onto the set with the color scheme, which was very red, gold and splendid, the bullfight really took off.”

“Color was very important in the scope of the film, especially gold and jade colors, which are prominently displayed through the visual scheme of the work. And this comes from a saying we have in China, where gold and jade are on the outside while the inside is dark and rotting, and that’s the theme we really wanted to emphasize.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Images above © Sony Pictures Classics
Feature © 2006 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #678, January 2007 cover

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