Hu Mei Brings Confucius to the Big Screen
http://www.chinese.cn 10:10, April 28, 2010 China.org.cn
To depict the life of Confucius in a movie is far from easy. Yet that's exactly what veteran female director Hu Mei has done.
Hu's epic movie, Confucius, was the first to take on the task of detailing the life of the ancient sage. It follows the great master's life from age 51 until his death. Released in China's mainland on January 22 of this year, the movie achieved impressive revenue at the box office, amounting to more than 100 million yuan (US$14.7 million). It was also released in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore.
The success of the movie can be contributed to Hu's unconventionally bold approach. Her choice to cast Hong Kong star Chow Yun-Fat as Confucius stirred controversy across China. People could not help but doubt that Chow, known for his gun-wielding gangster image, was the right person for the role.
Hu also deviated from history and dramatized Confucius, something no one has dared to do because of his deified status in Chinese history. For example, Nan Zi, an extremely obscure female figure in Confucius's life, is described in only 100-something words in historical records. Yet Hu featured Nan Zi (played by Zhou Xun) in an important supporting role, depicting her relationship with Confucius as a sort of love affair. Hu insisted that such an intellectual female character as Nan Zi is necessary to build a convincing image of Confucius. Dramatization is necessary to make a movie and she cannot stick to history all the time, she added.
Hu's brave methods worked. She was able to make an otherwise didactic story into a string of touching moments and adrenaline-driven battle scenes. Meanwhile, due to Chow's participation, the movie was also marketable in the West.