THE GREAT WALL - movie review by dalia di giacomo
LEGENDARY PICTURES and UNIVERSAL PICTURES Present
A LEGENDARY PICTURES / ATLAS ENTERTAINMENT Production
A ZHANG YIMOU Film
JING TIAN PEDRO PASCAL WILLEM DAFOE HANYU ZHANG EDDIE PENG YU-YEN LU HAN KENNY LIN JUNKAI WANG ZHENG KAI CHENEY CHEN XUAN HUANG and ANDY LAU
Executive Producers JILLIAN SHARE ALEX GARTNER E. BENNETT WALSH LA PEIKANG ZHANG ZHAO
Produced by THOMAS TULL, p.g.a. CHARLES ROVEN, p.g.a. JON JASHNI, p.g.a. PETER LOEHR, p.g.a.
Story by MAX BROOKS and EDWARD ZWICK & MARSHALL HERSKOVITZ
"It makes little difference whether the enemy is people or monsters.” Zhang Yimou
I like this movie!!! I was really satisfied when I left the press screening in Zürich (Metropol Kino) because of different reasons. First off I liked at once the mix between fantasy and historical attitude, being a film rooted in the Chinese traditions, in the sense of discipline and showing weapons many of them clearly ahead to the weapons of the lands in the West. As second thing the plot is able to be interesting and rich in action in spite of the obvious space and time limits . As third consideration, it is nice to dive into an epic fantastic world without thinking (for one time) that the true purpose of the Wall was to protect the Chinese Land (in particular the Chines agriculture) aginst raiding nomadic folks of the Eurasian Steppe. The biggest thread was the ones of the Mongoles led by Gengis Khan and , later, by his grandson Kublai Khan. So for one time, we see The Great Wall and its elitary army engaged to repel hordes of monsters instead. I find it just cool, even because it is simply well done.
The movie is directed by the visionary ZHANG YIMOU (Raise the Red Lantern, Hero, House of Flying Daggers) and marks his first English-language production and is, at the same time, the largest film ever shot entirely in China (although the Wall towers are built). I mean, it is breathtaking to watch a movie which is shot there where it should be supposed to be. This feature only makes this movie very interesting. The special effects are many and not disappointing. Photography is fantastic and the war techniques featured are spectacular and sometimes even acrobatic. All this is exalted in 3d . Catapults, spears, mechanical blades, hot –air balloons and much more. I like the very beginning oft he movie with the sand of desert. I like (almost ) everything in this thrilling adventure. Matt Damon’s performance is also good, starring as William Garin, mercenary and master archer in search of the black powder and ending up fighting to protect humanity from supernatural forces. In particular against creature that really dwell the Chinese mythology: the gargoyle-like Tao Tei species that rises every 60 years from the heart of the Jade Mountain.
“I remember being told when I was young that the magnificent Great Wall of China was the only manmade object one could see from space,” says producer and Legendary CEO Thomas Tull. “True or not, I never forgot that, and when I set out to create a company known for its monster movies, I wanted to make one that combined my love of the genre set against this magnificent structure.
“I always wondered what was so important and compelling to have a country build a structure that big, that incredible,” Tull continues. “At Legendary, we like monsters, so my geeky brain went to work on the idea of a country building this wall to keep monsters out.”
“During the course of developing the screenplay, Western writers actually discovered the Chinese legend of a monster called the Taotie [historical spelling],” adds producer Peter Loehr “The Taotie is actually quite well known in China. “There’s a fantasy book called the ‘Shan-hai Jing,’ which dates back 2,500 years,” Loehr continues. “In the book, they set out different types of monsters, goblins and demons, and the Tao Tei (our spelling) is one of them. The Tao Tei, in the fantastical ‘Shan-hai Jing,’ as well as historical records, are portrayed as gluttonous. They eat incessantly, so much so that when there’s nothing left to eat, they eat their own bodies.”
Director Zhang Yimou says “In the movie, The Great Wall symbolizes the safeguard of peace and national spirit,” . “I thought the screenplay was a special story, especially when you look at The Wall from a different angle. The Wall was built to protect our homeland from invaders. From this perspective, it makes little difference whether the enemy is people or monsters.”
dalia di giacomo