Zhang Lijia

Author Zhang Lijia reviewed for the BBC film director Zhang Yimou’s latest movie The Flowers of War. On her weblog she explains why the movie did not convince her.

Zhang Lijia:

[The film] certainly stands head and shoulder higher than most of the Chinese films. Yet I found it unsatisfying despite its enormous potential to be a truly great one.

I don’t think it is a propaganda film but rather China’s effort in pushing its film industry onto the world stage and more importantly, director Zhang Yimou’s bid for Oscar, something he got his eyes on for a while. When he read the novelFlowers of the War by famous writer Yan Geling, he became very excited. I remember Yan, a friend, talked about this. I think Zhou saw it as his ticket to Oscar. He had wanted to produce a Chinese version of the Schindler’s list,something profound that reflects the insight of human mind set against a dramatic backdrop, such as a war.

I am afraid that he’ll be disappointed. To me, the film lacks depth. It places far too much emphasis on the American fake priest, played by Hollywood star Christian Bale, brought in perhaps to attract the international audience. But the character is unconvincing as the plot itself: his transformation from a ‘jerk’ to an unselfish noble man is far too abrupt. And we audience don’t know enough about where he was coming from to feel connected with him.

More on Zhang Lijia’s weblog

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

More about Zhang Lijia and China’s moral crisis at Storify.

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