182 Great Directors: Chen Kaige

“For me, the project I would most like to do someday would be about the Cultural Revolution. I’ve never bothered to come up with a story because no film on that subject would ever be sanctioned today. But tomorrow things might be different.”


What Got This Director Here?
: Yellow Earth and Farewell My Concubine.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: N/A.

What Did I Watch: Yellow Earth.

Where Does He Fit: The opening shots of Yellow Earth are surreal, with the moon floating around like it’s a balloon letting out air, before we proceed to Chen Kaige’s very small epic about people collecting something as simple as music. “Is hope useful for the oppressed?” is a question worth asking, and Kaige does it with a lot of poetic fury, but I also can’t help but feel that something like this was better expressed in the comedy Devils on the Doorstep that I reviewed for this project. I can already tell that Farewell My Concubine was a better match for this man’s sensibilities.

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Most Valuable Asset: Epic scope of China’s history.
Most Excited For: Farewell My Concubine.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Status hinges on FMC. If it’s a masterpiece, maybe, but the rest of his filmography looks spotty.

Coming Up Next: Horror’s biggest provocateur, Tod Browning.

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