Zhang Yimou

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It is true that I was a cinematographer, so for me, the narration of the spectacular is powerful and important.
The juries probably are curious about something they have never seen, something authentic, something that is hard to find in their society.
Good films have had influence on us. To say that they haven't is to talk nonsense. No one lives in a vacuum. I believe that the world's great masters, geniuses, and super-genius have always been the products of their times, that they've been influenced by the overall creative atmosphere of their times. Regardless of whether they want to be like other people or not, they've all been influenced.
I thought I should make a film with box office promise, that refers to Chinese culture, but also contains an art element.
I have always hoped that Asian movies can enjoy better development and can enjoy a better position in relation to the rest of the world. I'm sure this is the hope and goal of all movie directors in Asia.

Zhang Yimou (born 14 November 1951) is a Chinese film director, producer, writer and actor, and former cinematographer. He has won numerous awards and recognitions, with three Academy Awards nominations for Best Foreign Language Film for Ju Dou in 1990, Raise the Red Lantern in 1991, and Hero in 2003. One of Zhang's recurrent themes is the resilience of Chinese people in the face of hardship and adversity, a theme which has been explored in such films as To Live (1994) and Not One Less (1999). His films are particularly noted for their rich use of colour, as can be seen in some of his early films, like Raise the Red Lantern, and in his wuxia films like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. His highest budgeted film to date is the 2016 monster film The Great Wall, set in Imperial China and starring Matt Damon.

Quotes[edit]

  • Fiction film is really different from documentary in this aspect. It is less objective, because the director expresses a subjective point of view with the movie. I would like the movie to look like a documentary, look real.
  • Using “realistic style” does not mean that we have to change and make a documentary film. It remains fiction. When I make movies, it is subjective, my own interpretation of the novel, my way of organizing the movie scenes. The director’s reflection is not objective, because we are expressing our own point of view, and from the angle of what interests us.
  • It is true that I was a cinematographer, so for me, the narration of the spectacular is powerful and important. I always pay special attention to the expression of the pictures. It has always been my style.
  • I think being popular is a tool instead of a purpose. One has to use a tool to express what he wants to express. Movies from the West, sometimes, are using this as a purpose, for a high market value. Their movies are made to be trendy, so that they could attract a great number of people. And in turn, they will make money that way. This is a universal feature in the industry. But for me I do not feel that it is enough if you just want to make something so that it will be popular. I have to express what I want to say. I probably would refuse to make such a film. To cast a movie, I have to find myself, to express what I want to say. Being popular, for me, is a process to make more and more people accept your ideas. For the movies I make, I try my best to make them popular, to make the audience accept it naturally. This is important. But I do not mean the other extreme, to only express what you want to say and neglect the public. This could end up as something just cherished by the artist. I think we are part of the mass, not higher than other people. I do not think possessing the quality of being popular is something lose face over. It is a style. It would work for the movies if and only if I am able to express what I want to say, and use popularity as a tool.
  • Each person has his or her own point of view. However, if a jury likes a movie, this does not always mean that it is a good movie. It only reflects the view of the jury members. On the other hand, China is a developing country. The juries probably are curious about something they have never seen, something authentic, something that is hard to find in their society. The different living condition of each country defines how we see them and how they see us.
  • As I said, a work should be unique in idea. I think many Hollywood movies reflect a simple world outlook. Instead of putting emphasis on the breakthrough of the content, the symbolic aspect, they stress other entertainment elements to attract an audience, such as sensational approach and a high technological skill. They carry a high price tag, and sometimes are very well done, with love scenes and action. But in terms of artistic value, the symbolic meaning of the movies, some of them, not all, are kept plain. They may just draw lines of moral value, such as struggles between good and evil, something we are educated about once and for all in high school. I think movies should have more than just these, they should touch more varieties of the society, different aspects of life, and reflect people. They are more for development, more to explore. Of course this is only my personal view, each person may have their own view.
  • Even an adaptation of a good literary work must first become a film; it can't be a copy of literature. An adaptation doesn't have to be like the original work, and it should be filmic. The first thing I do is simplify its events-simplify and popularize them. Film goes by only once, and its form of viewing is compelling. There's no time to go back, or turn back and reflect. You have no choice but to go along with the screen. Sometimes in literary language one or two sentences are very refined and charming. You can repeatedly try to figure them out, and once you've reached the last chapter, you could even rummage back to reflect on earlier points in the book. A film goes by only once, and not many ordinary people will see it two or three times. The rest of the viewing space is black and silent-the only thing with light and sound is the screen. The audience has no choice but to move along with the film's time, and because of this, films shouldn't be too complicated.
  • If a nation wants to develop toward the future, if it wants to be powerful and prosperous or influential, it simply has to have a vitality and burning passion toward life. No matter how much you suffer and no matter how tragic your fate, you need courage to live. This courage can't be worn away; otherwise, humanity would have no way of moving forward or developing toward the future. I think that several thousand years of humanity have also relied upon this kind of courage-an unceasing desire and vitality toward controlling one's own destiny. Every person hopes that his or her life will get better and better; this idea underlies everything. This is a critique of the modern mentality of Chinese people. Even though a country may be poor-its people poverty-stricken with all kinds of problems and much suffering-if people want to live, they should live to their hearts content, and they should have spiritual passion.
  • Good films have had influence on us. To say that they haven't is to talk nonsense. No one lives in a vacuum. I believe that the world's great masters, geniuses, and super-genius have always been the products of their times, that they've been influenced by the overall creative atmosphere of their times. Regardless of whether they want to be like other people or not, they've all been influenced.
  • I believe a great film has to be, first of all, artistic. It has to be beautifully done. Nowadays there are just so many films and TV shows out there that it's like fast food. And there's no strong artistic element to it. And secondly, a great film has to be deep. It has to be impactful. And tell an amazing story.
  • We need to strike a balance between the visuals and the story itself. And for me, I believe the story is the most important thing. And then secondly it's the artistic style. Because if we don't have a great story, it's all about the visual and the appearance and then it'll be too superficial and too shallow.
  • Chinese moviegoers appreciate a good balance, so we should try to achieve a perfect combination of content and visual impact; those would be the best works. Having said that, visual movies can have an extraordinarily strong impact, so I believe that visuals deserve a lot of attention as well.
  • It's hard to tell where inspiration comes from. Very often, it comes when you least expect it. Perhaps you get a tiny detail or specific image in your mind and you find that image beautiful. Or sometimes, inspiration comes from another person, something that another person says or does moves you. You find yourself touched and the feelings give you an idea you can use and develop. And sometimes the ideas come from watching other people's works or movies because I really love to go to movies myself.
  • I would say I tend to adopt a more affirmative approach to women because many of my works are dealing with the theme of anti-feudalism. So I have used a lot of historical themes in my works, you know the Chinese culture and the Chinese tradition. The man and the father are dominant in both society and family, and a lot of pressure is put on the female, and I wanted to reflect that.
  • I have always hoped that Asian movies can enjoy better development and can enjoy a better position in relation to the rest of the world. I'm sure this is the hope and goal of all movie directors in Asia.
  • I think my experience represents a wealth of assets for my life and my work. During the ten years of the Cultural Revolution, I was 16 to 26 years old. I experienced a lot of chaotic situations, and saw a lot of tragic things around me. So that deep understating of human life, of human society really benefits me today - in the way it affects my work, my thinking or even how I deal with my problems. You know, when I'm looking at different types of movies, I tend to think more about human life, about the human spirit, about the human heart. That's from my past experience that's still very deeply rooted in me.
  • I have seen a lot of films, but no Western filmmaker has ever had a great impact or influence on me. We always feel there is a great gap between Chinese films and Western films. Western films are far more advanced, but we don’t feel any shock about this gap. It seems natural.

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