Zhang Yimou, Fifth Generation Chinese Director

Flowering in the Shadow of Red Sorghum: A Look at a Lesser Trilogy by Zhang Yimou (Right-Click and “Save Target as” to Download)

Like many Americans, my first exposure to Asian film came in 2000  through Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  I had never seen the sort of acrobatic wire tricks that are common to the Chinese wuxia genre.  It was as if China came down from the sky and landed in Missouri that day, permanently parking in my backyard.  I was an immediate convert.

When I saw a preview for Zhang Yimou’s pastoral The Road Home (1999) on the Crouching Tiger DVD, I was immediately intrigued:  It was a Chinese film that was not a martial arts film.  It did not appear to rely on stunts or special effects flash, and yet it appeared to be the work of a visual craftsman.  As it turned out, it was the film that led me to an appreciation of filmmaker Zhang Yimou, the foremost member of the Fifth Generation of Chinese directors.

Much has been written about his Red Trilogy, which is comprised of Red Sorghum (1987), Ju Dou (1990), and Raise the Red Lantern (1991).  In these films, the silver screen is painted with wine and blood, and dominated by the scandal of individualism railing against cultural collectivism.  I decided to write a paper about a lesser trilogy by Zhang Yimou, which did not receive as much attention, but was worthy of exploration.  Download it and read it for your enjoyment, and then go and check out Zhang Yimou’s films.  Most of them are masterpieces.

Zhang Yimou on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Yimou

Zhang Yimou on IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0955443/