Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers

By Yvonne Tasker | Go to book overview

ZHANG YIMOU

Zhang Yimou is the best-known contemporary Chinese filmmaker both inside and outside China. He is at once the personification of Chinese national cinema, an important figure and frequent award-winner in the international film festival circuits, a director of cutting-edge art-house film, a commercial genius, a political spokesperson through film, an artist and a performer. The way in which he has come to embody these many roles echoes the trajectory of Chinese cinema itself from the mid-1980s to the present day, partly as a result of the international response to the generation of Chinese film artists represented by figures like Zhang. He emerged on the Chinese and international film scene as a key member of the so-called 'Fifth Generation' and more broadly of the New Cinema or New Wave. A graduate of the class of 1982 from the Beijing Film Academy, he and his classmates have forever changed the course of Chinese film history. In the international arena, no other filmmaker has won and been nominated for so many prizes at numerous international film festivals in such a short period of time, including the Berlin Film Festival, the Venice Festival, the Tokyo Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards. In China he has been nicknamed the 'award-winning specialist' (huo jiang zhuanye hu).

After graduating from the Department of Cinematography at the Beijing Film Academy, Zhang first worked as a cinematographer in the early stage of his career. He was the cinematographer of the first Fifth Generation film One and Eight; of Yellow Earth, directed by his classmate Chen Kaige, a landmark film that established the international reputation of the Fifth Generation; and of other classics of the New Cinema such as The Big Parade and Old Well. If a distinctive visual style has defined much of the essence of the New Cinema from the early phase to the present, Zhang Yimou is undoubtedly a key figure from the very beginning. His extraordinary camerawork in Yellow Earth-long shots of the northern Chinese landscape, the grafting of traditional Chinese landscape painting onto modern film technology, and the evocation of Taoist aesthetics in the service of a contemporary cultural critique-amounted to a revolution in Chinese film language. Striking visual images are also a recurrent feature of his work as a director. The symmetries, close-ups, long shots and perfectly framed images, buildings, faces, and figures in Raise the Red Lantern are textbook examples of the art of cinematography. The exuberant colours in Red Sorghum and Ju Dou evoke either a sense of exhilaration and liberation, or a mood of

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Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Notes on the Text xxiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 5
  • Allison Anders 9
  • Notes 24
  • Filmography 25
  • Filmography 65
  • Notes 89
  • Notes 98
  • Jackie Chan 99
  • Filmography 125
  • Notes 144
  • Filmography 154
  • Further Reading 161
  • Filmography 169
  • Stranger Than Fiction 177
  • Further Reading 194
  • The Face of a Sad Rat 195
  • Notes 218
  • Diane Kurys 220
  • Filmography 227
  • Further Reading 244
  • Notes 253
  • Notes 279
  • Filmography 280
  • Filmography 296
  • Filmography 302
  • Notes 327
  • Further Reading 346
  • Notes 352
  • Notes 369
  • Further Reading 370
  • Notes 394
  • Zhang Yimou 412
  • Notes 428
  • Index 431
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