Thursday, March 01, 2007


Title:Curse Of The Golden Flower (Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia)
Cast: Yun-Fat Chow, Li Gong, Jay Chou, Ye Liu, Dahong Ni, Junjie Qin, Man Li, Jin Chen
Director:Yimou Zhang

Sunday night the 3rd annual Glasgow Film Festival was finished with the UK premiere of The Curse Of The Golden Flower. Golden Flower is the new film by director Zhang Yimou, Zhang has been directing for years, though he really raised his profile with Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Golden Flower is a lot like those films, though with less martial arts and bigger set pieces, and much more use of colour.

To a degree this is a court drama - the Emperor feeds the Empress medicine, and she knows that it has just changed, with some investigation she discovers the new ingredient is a poison. She can't refuse to take the medicine, but she can form plots of her own. Caught between the Emperor and Empress are their three sons, the oldest of which comes from a previous marriage and has been involved with the Empress, while the second son has just returned from war. All a set up for betrayal and rebellion. Weakness, jealousy, and lust all add their tint to the rainbow palette.

The Curse Of The Golden Flower feels different than Zhang’s last few films. Perhaps because the bulk of the film all takes place within the same place? Perhaps because is feels more constrained and claustrophobic in some ways? Chow Yun Fat as the Emperor and Gong Li as Empress take up the core of the film and radiate a veiled malice towards each other. While Zhang seems to be specializing in the tragedy with his last few films, I felt more wrung out and edging on depression as Golden Flower reached its climax than before.

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