Monday, April 30, 2007

The curse of the golden flower: Beautiful images terrible film

The new film of Yimou Zhang (The Hero) continues the tradition of the Chinese
films with the beautiful and well organised scenes. One could say that
in this particular film the richness of the colors and the balance of
the image is more prominent than ever. On the other hand, the film has
no meaning and no story. It seems that the director just needed an excuse to create an epic series of beautiful pictures. When however the pictures have nothing but boredom to convey eventually they loose their appeal and become a mere extravagance. When the film ends you have like when you eat too much junk food or too much sweets. You are discussed by yourself for having stayed in the theatre for almost three hours.
OK some might accuse me of being too tough on it (even if i dont think so)
but lets compare this film to some of his previous creations like the House of Flying Daggers or even better the Hero. Especially in the Hero case the director has managed not only to create astonishing pictures but also to use the colors and the images in order to convey a meaning.
In this case beauty serves a purpose as the colors -for example- have a
symbolic meaning.The problem is -I suspect- that Yimou Zhang has probably discovered that his pictures sell well in the west. As a result he reached a maniera where the richness of colors and the epic images serve nothing.
The script of The curse of the golden flower has nothing to offer. Intricate relationships and corruption withing the royal family is often demonstrated in films in various and more sophisticated and well though methods. The twists and turns of the plot are rather obvious and do not manage to surprise or get the spectator interested. The pace of the film is slow and tiring. The only remotely interesting idea is the one of the long term poison. The wife of the emperor is poisoned by
her husband. Even though she knows it she is forced to swallow the medicine-poison every few hours. The servants bring her the supposed medicine -in reality
the poison- with an extreme ceremony and watch her drink it. The film begins with this scene. It is a good example of how a simple event can change meaning and connotations according to the feelings of the spectator. What in the begging of the film is simple and trivia becomes sinister and tragic when the information on the true nature of the medicine is revealed. Besides that little drop of some
interest the film is completely dreadful. I will probably have to watch The Hero one more time just in order to wash the experience of The curse of the Golden flower out.

No comments: