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ZHANG YIMOU

China

Born: Xi'an, China, 1950.


Zhang Yimou (JPG, 8 KB)

Internationally successful Chinese Fifth Generation director. Following the Cultural Revolution from 1968 to 1978 he toiled as a farm hand and unskilled labourer. As a hobby, he honed his skills as a photographer. When the Beijing Film Academy was re-opened in 1978, he enrolled and was admitted, despite his relatively advanced age of 27. He began his film career as a cinematographer on One and the Eight (1982) and two films directed by another key Fifth Generation figure, Chen Kaige (Yellow Earth, 1983, and The Big Parade, 1985). As a director, he began auspiciously with Red Sorghum (1988), the story of a young woman (Gong Li) sold into a loveless marriage with a prosperous winemaker. He continued to feature Gong Li in his subsequent features (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, The Story of Qiuju). His great strength is his mastery of filmmaking technique: photography, set design, use of sound and colour are always vivid and impeccable. As a narrator, he favours complex, tragic melodramas that plot the shifting centre of power and control in human relations. His films have often been deemed unflattering politcal allegories. As a result, despite drawing considerable acclaim overseas, they have been banned or greatly restricted by the Chinese government. A Renaissance man of the cinema, Zhang not only directs but acts, notably in the action-comedy The Terra-Cotta Warrior and the drama Old Well. Ju Dou was nomminated for an Academy Award in the US.

Ephraim Katz, The Film Encyclopedia



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